Yesterday, Thursday, April 20, 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that juvenile courts cannot summarily reject immigrant children’s petitions for dependency without giving them a chance to present evidence.
This decision comes during a time where Florida judges, particularly in Miami-Dade County, are encountering an increase in dependency petitions from children seeking permanent U.S. residency. In recent years, many of those petitions have been denied without an evidentiary hearing. However, yesterday’s ruling changes that; now dependency petitions are unlikely to be summarily dismissed simply because the child is an immigrant; leaving open the possibility of then seeking a favorable determination of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) on the application, and even the possibility of seeking lawful permanent residency.
The decision rendered yesterday gives immigrant children the security of knowing that before a dependency claim is ruled on, the child has the due process procedural rights to have their claims heard.