Massachusetts State House.
Policy Library

Recinos v. Escobar

November 01, 2015

The Boston Bar Association signed onto an amicus brief with a coalition of concerned organizations and individuals arguing that the Probate and Family Court has equity jurisdiction over youth up to the age of 21 to enter the findings needed to be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. In brief, since 1990, the federal government has provided Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status to children, defined by federal law as unmarried persons under the age of 21, as a pathway to seek legal permanent resident status. However, SIJ status requires a finding of abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a specialized state court and a determination that the child is dependent on the state court in order to merit SIJ consideration by a federal immigration agency or federal immigration court. However, because the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court does not have jurisdiction beyond age 18, it has been constrained from making such findings for individuals who are 18, 19 or 20. The Justices made explicit and complimentary reference to the amicus brief during oral argument, and the Supreme Judicial Court held in-line with the brief, that the Probate and Family court does indeed have equity jurisdiction to make the requisite findings, and that plaintiff is dependent on the court for these purposes.