RMIAN Celebrates Passage of Vulnerable Youth Bill

On March 28, Governor Polis signed into law Colorado House Bill 19-1042, Extension of Court Jurisdiction for Vulnerable Youth, creating vital protections and opportunities for immigrant youth in Colorado.  This bill was sponsored by Representative Serena Gonzales Gutierrez and Senator Julie Gonzales.
 
“I am deeply honored and grateful to have been a part of the dedicated team of people that came together to pass this law and change the lives of immigrant youth in need of protection,” said RMIAN’s Children’s Program Managing Attorney Ashley Harrington. “RMIAN has worked for over a decade promoting the rights of immigrant youth in Colorado, and this new law will help many of the children and families we have the honor to work with every day.”
 
“I am so proud of our Colorado legislature and Governor for acknowledging the vulnerability of immigrant youth and aligning Colorado law with the federal statute, thereby opening the door for Colorado’s youth to access the protection of Special Immigrant Juvenile Status,” says RMIAN Pro Bono Mentoring Panel member Katie Glynn, an attorney at Grob & Eirich LLC.
 
Under federal law, Special Immigrant Juvenile Status provides a pathway to lawful permanent residency for certain immigrant youth who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned and who are under the jurisdiction of a state court. In order to apply for this protection, children must first obtain an order establishing their eligibility from a state court that has jurisdiction to make custody decisions for them. Under federal law, unmarried youth under the age of twenty-one are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile classification. However, in Colorado, youth over the age of eighteen have been largely excluded from this protection because they were unable to access Colorado’s juvenile courts once they turned eighteen.
 
This new law expands the jurisdiction of Colorado courts in custody and guardianship proceedings to include youth up to the age of twenty-one who are living with and dependent upon a caregiver and who are seeking findings to support an application for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. This brings Colorado law in line with federal law, as well as other states like New York, Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, Washington and California, to ensure that Colorado’s vulnerable youth have equal access to our state courts and to federal protections.
 
RMIAN will continue to fight to advance the legal rights of our fellow Coloradans of immigrant backgrounds. We stand for inclusion, equality, and justice and will fight for due process and equal access to justice for all.

If you would like more information about this law, please call Ashley Harrington at (720) 370-9104, or email aharrington@rmian.org.