Paula* entered the U.S. in February 2017 as an Unaccompanied Minor and was released to the care of her great-aunt in Broward County. She was abandoned by her mother at age eight, and suffered a cycle of abandonment by her father throughout her childhood. These circumstances led to Paula being trafficked and abused by caregivers and family members in Honduras.
Paula was referred to LAS by her case manager at Youth Co-Op. She came to Legal Aid 46 days before her 18th birthday, seeking assistance with immigration (as she is undocumented) and seeking a legal custody order so that her aunt could have a legal document that explained their relationship.
Finally, one day before her 18th birthday, Legal Aid attorneys were able to secure a Temporary Custody Order and a Special Interest Order on Paula’s eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile status, which is status created to protect a uniquely vulnerable class of immigrants – abused, abandoned and neglected minors. This means that Paula is now eligible to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile status and, should the application be approved, she will be eligible to apply for her green card and relief from deportation. It also means that she is now eligible for Florida KidCare, which will allow her to receive medical and mental health services in order to cope with the various traumas she suffered in her home country.
*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of our clients.