(CN) – A federal judge denied Friday the Trump administration’s motion to dismiss a class action brought by young immigrants who were abused, neglected or abandoned by their parents and sought the right to seek Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services started to deny special status last year to young immigrants who had turned 18. A group of four immigrants who were abused or left by their parents filed a class action in the Northern District of California last year to prevent the government from denying the immigration status to the affected youths.
In October 2018, U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins granted the immigrants a preliminary injunction barring the feds from enacting the new policy and preventing deportation.
The immigration agency claimed in its motion to dismiss that it did not change its policy, but rather clarified it. Cousins disagreed, saying that its “new interpretation of the [immigration status] statute constitutes final agency action that is appropriate for judicial review” under the Administrative Procedure Act.
In Cousins’ 16-page ruling issued Friday, he rejected the federal government’s claim that the policy change was mere “guidance” or “centralization.”
“Defendants cannot avoid review by unilaterally claiming that its rulemaking was merely a clarification of the law and pointing to its lack of a formal process as proof,” Cousins wrote.
As with his October 2018 ruling, Cousins again found the immigration agency’s reasoning to be flawed in its justification of its policy.
Under the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, immigrant children who suffered from parental abuse have a way to apply for lawful permanent residency. According to the federal law, the child has to receive approval from a state court before being allowed to seek the status with the federal government.
California, as well as a few other states, allow immigrants between 18 and 20 to seek status findings.