Minnesota’s immigration court has taken on the deportation cases of about 300 unaccompanied minors under an expedited review process begun in August. The prospects for Central American migrants are murky.
In Minnesota, about 60 were ordered deported, usually after skipping their court hearings. Judge Susan Castro has closed most remaining cases temporarily so attorneys can pursue the two main avenues to allow minors to stay in the country:
• Asylum (handled in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ Chicago Asylum Office): Applications based on run-ins with criminal gangs in home countries have not fared well. During the first half of this fiscal year, the Chicago office approved 26 percent of such cases, one of the lowest rates nationally.
• Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: (handled in state family and juvenile courts): The court has to find the child was neglected or abused by a parent, making deportation untenable. Anecdotally, this route appears more promising. Hennepin County family court estimates that it has approved most of 15 recent applications.