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In re Israel O.

California Court of Appeals, First District, Fifth Division

January 16, 2015

In re Israel O., a Person Coming Under the Juvenile Court Law. THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent,
v.
Israel O., Defendant and Appellant.

Superior Court of Alameda County, No. SJ13022021-01, Armando G. Cuellar, Jr., Judge.

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COUNSEL

Brendon D. Woods, Public Defender, and Raha Jorjani, Immigration Attorney, for Defendant and Appellant.

Paul Hastings and C. Yewleh Chee for Legal Services for Children and Immigrant Legal Resource Center as Amici Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Kamala D. Harris, Attorney General, Gerald A. Engler, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Eric D. Share and Jeffrey M. Bryant, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.

OPINION

BRUINIERS, J.

Israel O. was born in Mexico and is not a United States citizen. He was adjudged a ward of the juvenile court as a result of admitting

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a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code section 496, subdivision (a). Israel requested that the court make the factual findings that would qualify him for special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status under federal law (8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(27)(J); hereafter section 1101(a)(27)(J) or the SIJ statute). Such findings are a prerequisite for filing an SIJ status application with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security (see8 C.F.R. § 204.11(d) (2014)), which would allow Israel an opportunity to pursue regularization of his immigration status in the United States. The juvenile court declined to make the requested SIJ status findings. The sole issue on appeal is whether the juvenile court erred in its interpretation of the SIJ statute.[1] We find that it did and remand for further proceedings.

I. Background

A. The SIJ Statute

“The Immigration Act of 1990, codified at [title 8 United States Code] section 1101, sets forth a procedure for classification of certain aliens as special immigrants who have been declared dependent ‘on a juvenile court.’ ” (B.K v. Superior Court (2012) 207 Cal.App.4th 621, 626 [143 Cal.Rptr.3d 730].) "Congress created this classification to protect abused, neglected, and abandoned unaccompanied minors through a process that allows them to become permanent legal residents. [Citation.]... A minor who obtains SIJ status may become a naturalized United ...


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