Today, Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the Foster Children Opportunity Act, H.R. 3333, to protect abused and neglected immigrant children in foster care and ensure they are given ample opportunity to gain legal status before they leave care. Under current immigration law, many immigrant foster children are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and other types of immigration relief. However, once young people “age out” of the foster care system they lose eligibility and risk deportation, sometimes back to the country where their abuser lives. Many children leave care having lost their opportunity for relief.
Stark said “Allowing abused and neglected children to leave our foster care system and face deportation is completely unacceptable. The status quo must change. This legislation will enable us to better fulfill our responsibility to all foster children and provide immigrant youth with an opportunity to succeed in this country after leaving care.”
The Foster Children Opportunity Act strengthens the child welfare system to ensure all immigrant foster children receive the benefits they’re eligible for under current law. It requires the child welfare system to screen children to determine if they’re eligible for SIJS, and it requires documentation by child welfare agencies and judges in their efforts to help children obtain SIJS.