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Judges Continue to Deny Dependency Pleas From Undocumented Teens in Florida

| January 4, 2016

undocumented teens dependency

Rejected. (Thomas Sørensen)

In the latest in a series of similar cases, a South Florida appeals court last week rejected legal-dependency requests from teens who fled Guatemala and Honduras and entered the United States as undocumented immigrants.

A determination of dependency, based on issues such as abandonment by parents or abuse, would help the teens apply for a special immigration status and seek permanent residency, according to court documents.

But divided panels of the 3rd District Court of Appeal turned down the dependency requests Wednesday in three cases. One of the cases, for example, involved a teen, identified by the initials B.R.C.M., who lives with his godmother in Miami after leaving Guatemala at age 14 and entering the United States in Texas.

The appeals court said the teen, who had been living with his aging grandmother in Guatemala and said he feared being forced into a gang in the country, could not meet the legal tests for showing that he is abandoned, abused or neglected. Also, it pointed to the role of the federal government in immigration issues.

“There is no allegation in this case that anyone has ever laid a hand or threatened to lay a hand on B.R.C.M., even while he resided in his home country, Guatemala,” said the ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Frank Shepherd and joined by Judge Thomas Logue. “His problem is one typical of all minors who are not safe outside their homes because of a government that is unable to provide them, their family members and neighbors a safe environment in which to go about their daily lives. Sadly, what exists in Guatemala is what exists in the majority of countries of the world today — lawless nations and societies which do not provide or do not choose to provide freedom, safety and security to their citizens. Whether or not to accommodate individuals of any age into this country on the basis of the conditions of the country in which they were born or reside is not for us to decide. It is a matter of federal policy entrusted to the United States Congress.”

But Judge Vance Salter dissented in all three cases, raising concerns that lower courts have summarily turned down such petitions. He argued that lower courts should take testimony and make detailed findings about teens’ claims in the dependency requests.

“We cannot lose sight of the fact that each immigrant juvenile petitioner is a child inside our state borders, that he or she may have scars that go unseen, and that each such petitioner is equal to other Florida children under the law,” Salter wrote in a dissent involving a teen who left Honduras and crossed the border in Texas in 2014. The teen, identified by the initials S.F.A.C., was later released to his mother, who was living in Miami.

Wednesday’s rulings came after a series of appeals-court decisions in similar cases. As an example, Shepherd cited six earlier cases in which the 3rd District Court of Appeal had upheld lower-court decisions denying dependency.

Along with the cases involving the teens identified as B.R.C.M. and S.F.A.C., the other decision Wednesday involved a teen, identified by the initials E.P.N., who left Guatemala, crossed the border and was later released to her mother in Homestead, according to a dissent by Salter.

–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida

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14 Responses for “Judges Continue to Deny Dependency Pleas From Undocumented Teens in Florida”

  1. Anthony says:

    I understand both sides of this issue.

    The justice system is to serve and protect USA citizens from abuse of others who intend to enter our country under false pretenses, regardless of age.

    I also understand the thoughts of most teens wanting to live somewhere else other than their home land due to the existing struggles. UT as mentioned by a judge, the USA also shares the same problems.

    A solution to this is to put these illegal teen immigrants into a schooling program to educate them of USA history and the English language. Put these teens to the test to evaluate them as to see that they are not potential terrorist and help guide them away from gang related groups. If the teens are not willing, deport them.

  2. Derrick R says:

    And the point of the story is? Maybe to again start the debate ok lets begin. I see some of the Socialist Words written in the text “Undocumented Immigrant” In the non PC world the hard working underpaid taxpaying citizens call them Illegal Aliens.Which they are. So what part of illegal do we need further clarification on. Seems that the publisher of Flagler Live does go out of the way to cover such stories of foreign invaders that are a part of what the citizenry has had it’s fill of. How can someone who came to our shores legally not understand that there is a sytem of laes and proceeduress in place to allow people to enter and stay in a county and persons such as the ones mentioned in the story and countless others disobey both? Should we begin to question how he himself entered the country? I chose to point this out as many of us have family, friends or themselves have come to these shores legally and because of the process they themselves endured have little sympathy for those who entered or remain illegally. I am surprised that you chose to not cover the President’s attempt to circumvent congress with his plan to handcuff our 2nd. Amendment.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      Derrick, we try to write English. “Illegal alien” or “illegal immigrant” is not English. Ironic though that an immigrant to whom American-English is an adopted language is correcting your misapplication of your native tongue.

  3. Mondexian Mama says:

    Derrick R:Quick,without going to the dictionary define socialist.

  4. layla says:

    I think we all understand that we cannot support the world here, not while jobs are being lost to visa holders. The first duty of this government is to the citizens and that is not happening.

    That’s what elections are for. This congress is not doing its job. My recommendation is that they be voted out, both corrupt sides this time.

    Too many have forgotten we have a legal system in place for entering the country. With a relative already here, there was no excuse for this young man not to use it.

  5. Sherry says:

    Again. . . the invading, murdering Europeans who first came to these shores did not “legally” immigrate here.
    Even those coming through Ellis Island were not vetted/had any substantial background checks. Yet, they are known as the founders of the USA.

    Regarding the second amendment. . . it does NOT guarantee the right of EVERY citizen to own ANY gun with NO government oversight or regulations!

  6. Larry says:

    Actually Sherry the 2nd amendment DOES guarantee the RIGHT of EVERY LEGAL citizen to OWN firearms with NO government oversight or regulation. Try and stay up with the laws of OUR land please !

  7. just me says:

    HMM First I ever heard that our Founding fathers came through eliiis island??? Also the second does say we the people have the right to keep and bear arms and it shall NOT be infringed on by government.

  8. Sherry says:

    Here are the actual words to the 2nd amendment,:

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    In context. . . the words relate to guns being available to “a WELL REGULATED militia” . . . NOT to every mentally ill, citizen terrorist, NRA member!

  9. just me says:

    Sherry pleas read the whole thing. it clearly says the RIGHT of the people to keep and bear arms shall NOT be in fringed. It does NOT say the right is to a well regulated Militia. Should violent mentally ill have guns NO, what is a citizen terrorist?? Is it someone who has been convicted of a crime or one that is labeled such by you? What is wrong with every NRA member owning guns as long as they are legally allowed to own them??

  10. Sherry says:

    NO “just me” the WHOLE thing includes the words pertaining to a “well regulated militia”. . . words you apparently do not recognize. Look it up!

    Here is the FBI definition of domestic terrorism:

    “Domestic terrorism” means activities with the following three characteristics:

    Involve acts dangerous to human life that violate federal or state law;
    Appear intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination. or kidnapping; and
    Occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.
    18 U.S.C. § 2332b defines the term “federal crime of terrorism” as an offense that:

    Is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; and
    Is a violation of one of several listed statutes, including § 930(c) (relating to killing or attempted killing during an attack on a federal facility with a dangerous weapon); and § 1114 (relating to killing or attempted killing of officers and employees of the U.S.).

    In my mind that includes fanatical US citizens guilty of criminal acts in groups like the KKK, White Supremacists, etc. as well as xenophobes, racists, religious zealots, homophobes, etc. etc. Of course our laws should decide who is criminally guilty. However, with the current problems with our policing culture, some times a “bad acting” law enforcement officer does not allow the legal process to decide.

  11. Sherry says:

    I just received this from a “Sandy Hook” parent:

    We called him the custodian of all living things. If an ant had crawled its way into our kitchen, he’d gently pick it up and carry it out outside to rejoin its family. If he saw a classmate sitting alone, he’d be the first to provide company and comfort. At 7 years old, he cared, he listened, and he loved more deeply than many adults I know.

    On December 14, 2012, he was killed by a man with a gun. My son Daniel was one of the 26 lives taken from us at the hands of a mass shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

    Since that day, President Obama promised us that he would use every tool available to him to spare another family the overwhelming pain of losing a child in such a horrific way. Today, he is taking additional steps to reduce gun violence.

    Watch his announcement at 11:40 a.m. ET to learn more about the executive action he’s taking today.

  12. just me says:

    Sherri please you look up what was meant by the term militia. it is not a government thing it is just individuals who take part in it. A domestic “terrorist” should not include those who have NOT committed and been convicted of a crime.

  13. Sherry says:

    @justme. . .

    1. About the 2nd amendment. . . I emphasized the words WELL REGULATED militia in my initial post by capitalizing those words. Apparently, you are choosing to totally ignore the point I am doing my best to make about “reasonable” gun safety REGULATIONS.

    2. Regarding the definition of a domestic terrorist. . .read my post again. . . here are my words ” fanatical US citizens GUILTY of criminal acts” and I did indicate that the law decides who is criminally guilty.

    Your relentless need to pick apart, misconstrue and misinterpret my words is becoming quite tiresome and frustrating. I will not be engaging with you directly again. . . “I’ll just consider the source”. . . and I’ll continue along my open minded, positive way and enjoy my happy life every day .

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