The First Department, reversing Family Court, determined Family Court should have made findings enabling the child to petition for special immigrant juvenile status (SIJS):
The evidence establishes that the child was unmarried and under the age of 21 at the time of the special findings hearing and order (see 8 CFR 204.11[c]). The Family Court’s appointment of a guardian (petitioner) rendered the child dependent on a juvenile court … .
The evidence that the child had had no contact with his parents, and received no support from them, since at least September 2014 established that reunification with the parents was not viable due to neglect or abandonment …. The parents’ consent to the appointment of a guardian and waiver of service also demonstrate an intent to relinquish their parental rights.
In determining whether reunification was viable, the Family Court should not have refused to consider evidence of circumstances that occurred after the child’s 18th, but before his 21st, birthday … .
The record demonstrates that it is not in the best interests of the child to return to Albania … . The evidence shows that the child suffered political persecution in Albania that his parents were unable to prevent … , that he had had no recent contact with his parents and was not sure if they would accept him if he returned … , and that he was doing well in petitioner’s care … . Matter of Lavdie H. v Saimira V., 2020 NY Slip Op 03177, First Dept 6-4-20