California Supreme Court Rules for Abandoned Immigrant Children

  • Aug 28 2018

The Supreme Court of California overturned a lower court decision, issuing a ruling that will make it easier for some immigrant children who have been either abused or abandoned by their parents, to obtain a U.S. visa and avoid deportation. The Court’s unanimous decision will not mandate the presence of an absentee parent who is living abroad in court proceedings.

No International Authority Creates Difficulty for Immigrant Children

Proponents of the ruling argued that the requirement of parents being present for kids to seek a U.S. visa would make it extremely difficult for these children not to be deported. This is because courts in the state of California do not have authority over any foreign citizens and the parent could very well refuse to participate in any proceedings. The California Supreme Court announced that it would be sufficient to thoroughly notify the absent parent of the proceedings, but explained that the parent would not have to be a party to the case.

Abandonment Creates Large Hurdles

The ruling stemmed from the case of a 10-year-old girl, “Bianka M.,” who had fled to the United States from Honduras and arrived by herself in 2013. Her mother was already in the U.S. and she had sought a court order granting her mother sole custody of her. Additionally, she requested that she not be able to reunite with her father, as he had abandoned her. Due to this, she explained that going back to Honduras would not be in her best interest.

California Attorney General, Xavier Becerra stated in court documents that the case had implications for a “substantial portion” of the many children who have fled to the U.S. from other countries and now reside in California.

The Issue of Parental Rights

Instead, she requested a special visa that could precede her receiving a green card. Unfortunately, a Los Angeles court told her that it would need to confirm that the man that she said was her father was in fact her biological father. This was because it said that by awarding Bianka’s mom full custody, it would take away his right to help raise her and would leave him open to paying child support.

Despite Bianka’s mother testifying that the man Bianka had referenced was in fact her father but left her when she was pregnant, the courts in California would not be capable of establishing authority over an “unwilling foreign resident,” so he would have to confirm it himself.

This new decision helps to remove some of the barriers obstructing immigrant children from accessing protection, which is required with regards to both federal and state law.

How We Can Help

If you have any questions concerning California’s new decision, or regarding any issues surrounding immigration, it’s important to speak with a qualified and experienced immigration lawyer. Call Talamantes Immigration Law Firm today at 619-916-4570 to learn more.

Posted in: Immigration Law