Gov. Brian Sandoval has signed AB142, the bill clarifying that Nevada family court judges may issue Special Immigrant Juvenile findings when immigrant children have been abused, neglected or abandoned by a parent, and when deportation would not be in the child’s best interest. These family court findings are necessary to allow a child to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS), which allows them to stay safely in the United States. The Clinic testified before both houses of the legislature in support of the bill.
Many family court judges and hearing masters have resisted making these findings because it involved immigration, and some have been quite open about their opposition to doing anything that facilitates immigration benefits. The Washington Post wrote an article about this problem recently at the national level; it has been a problem in Nevada as well. Nevada Assemblyman Edgar Flores, a Boyd alum, was the primary sponsor the the legislation.
The UNLV Immigration Clinic represents around 120 unaccompanied children from Central America, many of whom have been abused, neglect or abandoned. State family courts are the only place where anyone will assess the best interest of abused and neglected kids in the immigration system. This enactment of this bill means that Nevada courts will be open to protecting the best interests of immigrant kids.