Today, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) welcomes the introduction of the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act of 2023 by Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and Reps. Jimmy Gomez, Zoe Lofgren, and Adriano Espaillat. The bill is a significant step toward ensuring the welfare and security of unaccompanied children who have survived abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
The Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act addresses the critical need to ensure that children who have received protection from these harms through Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) are not forced to wait years before becoming permanent residents. This vital legislation exempts vulnerable youth from the annual visa limits that hinder their access to desperately needed safety. By removing these barriers, the Act will enable young immigrant survivors of abuse, domestic violence, abandonment, and neglect to obtain necessary support and stability.
“KIND commends Sen. Cortez Masto, Reps. Gomez, Lofgren, and Espaillat for introducing the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act, a crucial step towards safeguarding the well-being of young immigrant survivors of abuse and neglect,” said Jennifer Podkul, KIND Vice President of Policy and Advocacy. “Exempting SIJS visas from annual numerical limitation restores the original intent of Congress to protect and support these vulnerable youth. By passing this legislation, we can remove unjust obstacles that have impeded the progress and stability of young survivors.”
Established by Congress in 1990, the SIJS classification’s original purpose was to provide a humanitarian lifeline for children who have endured parental abuse, abandonment, neglect, or similar traumatic experiences. Yet, the current system needlessly restricts visa numbers and associated green card availability for vulnerable young survivors, subjecting them to years of legal limbo and often leading to profound adverse consequences. The SIJS visa cap undermines the Congressional intent of this protection pathway, posing severe obstacles to security for children and youth already determined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to qualify for permanent protection in the United States.
KIND urges all members of Congress to act swiftly to support and pass the Protect Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act, thereby ensuring safety, stability, and a brighter future for these deserving young people.
To speak with Jennifer Podkul or other KIND experts about the importance of passing the act, please contact Shamari White at email@example.com (202) 714-4129.