Ky Family Court has jurisdiction to make special immigration status findings – Ky Court of Appeals published opinion

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N.B.D. v. Cabinet for Health and Family Services; N.M.D.J., A Minor Child; R.D.; and F.J.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, an undocumented juvenile immigrant may apply for permanent residency by obtaining special immigration status. To obtain special immigration status, the immigrant child must present findings to a state juvenile court that satisfy certain criteria.

A Family Court declined to make such special immigration status findings regarding a Guatemalan child residing in Kentucky on jurisdictional grounds. In its order, The Family Court stated that there was no Kentucky statute that expressly required the Family Court to make findings under the special immigration status statute.

The Court of Appeals held that the special immigration status findings fall within the Family Court’s jurisdiction as furthering the purpose of KRS 23A.100, Kentucky’s family court jurisdictional statute, by “assuring an adequate remedy for children adjudged to be dependent, abused, or neglected.” Furthermore, the Court found that requiring the Family Court to make special immigration status findings does not violate the anti-commandeering provisions of the Tenth Amendment of the United states Constitution because the statute does not impose any specific burden on state courts to comply with a federal scheme, but rather, only requires the family court to act in furtherance of the best interest of a child.

Digested by Emily T. Cecconi

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