Washington, DC — Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Legal Aid of the District of Columbia welcome the introduction of the Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Act by Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau, Charles Allen, Robert White, Anita Bonds, and Brooke Pinto. This bill is an important safeguard for immigrant youth ages 18 up to 21 living in Washington, DC, extending legal protections to those who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected.
The Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Act would appoint legal guardians for youth ages 18 up to 21 living in Washington, D.C. who will benefit from a guardian’s support and who require such a relationship to qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and obtain permanent immigration status.
KIND provides legal representation and coordinated social services to unaccompanied children and works with many youth who will benefit from this legislation.
“The current misalignment in D.C. and federal law harms vulnerable immigrant youth by preventing them from accessing the protections that Congress intended for them,” said Wendy Young, President of KIND. “KIND supports the passage of the Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Act so that these young people are no longer living under the threat of deportation or have to consider uprooting their lives and leave DC to pursue humanitarian protection and stability.”
This bill will allow for more immigrant youth to qualify for a green card, obtain work authorization, and eventually apply for U.S. citizenship. As legal residents, eligible youth will be better situated to pursue education, qualify for certain federal benefits, seek employment and afford to live and remain active members of the community.
“Legal Aid DC supports the Vulnerable Youth Guardianship Protection Act which would provide many immigrant youth residing in Washington, DC with access to life-changing protections and opportunities through SIJS,” said June Lee, Director of the Immigrants’ Rights Legal Services Project at Legal Aid. “The bill would allow for these youth, who have often endured unspeakable hardship, to pursue safety and stability via a common-sense alignment of local and federal law.”
Megan McKenna, Senior Director of Communications and Public Engagement
Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), (202) 631-9990, firstname.lastname@example.org
June Lee, Director, Immigrants’ Rights Legal Services Project
Legal Aid DC, (202) 386-6663, email@example.com