On behalf of the International Law Section, Larry Rifkin, Ed Mullins, and Jacqueline Villalba assisted in the preparation of an Amicus Brief filed with the Florida Supreme Court on behalf of O.I.C.L., a minor unaccompanied alien. The Fourth District Court of Appeal’s decision in O.I.C.L. v. Department of Children and Families, No. 4D15-53, 2015 WL 4461164 (Fla. 4th DCA) (July 22, 2015) concerns the International Law Section because, among other issues, it seeks to restrict unaccompanied minors’ access to the courts by denying petitions for adjudication of dependency simply on the basis of whether the child lives with a relative, without further inquiry. The term “unaccompanied minor” is defined as a child who is under the age of 18, has no lawful immigration status in the United States, and has no parent or legal guardian in the United States that can provide care for the child. In most cases, an unaccompanied minor’s only form of relief from deportation is Special Immigrant Juvenile Status which requires, among other things, that a state juvenile court issue an Order of Dependency. In O.I.C.L., the Court failed to issue an Order of Dependency solely because the minor was living with a relative. The Brief urged the Florida Supreme Court to quash the Fourth District Court of Appeals’ decision on legal and humanitarian grounds.
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