There are, broadly speaking, two groups of illegal aliens in the U.S. under the age of 21:
- One group, a larger one, that has escaped the attention of the juvenile courts; and
- The other, a much smaller one, that is under the jurisdiction of those courts.
You might think that both groups are equally ineligible for an amnesty.
You would be wrong. The one with links to the juvenile courts has access to green cards and the other does not. You might think that this is yet another screwball part of our immigration system, and you are right.
To make matters even more nonsensical, the aliens concerned are granted legal status among the classes of "needed workers"; they are a subcategory of the fourth class of employment-based migrants (EB-4) as Special Immigrant Juveniles (SIJ).
They are special because their parents (probably illegals themselves) have not been kind to them in such a way as to give them an abused status in the eyes of state juvenile courts. This relationship with the courts opens the road to green cards.
They — like people who fought on our side in distant wars — are regarded as victims and thus get legal status. On one hand, we have the translators who defied the Taliban, generally heroes, and on the other hand, young illegal aliens with unpleasant parents who treated them badly. Only in America!
And fairly recently a judge decided to make it much easier for some of the New York resident SIJs to legalize while, for different reasons and in a different context, the translators have been having trouble becoming documented.
My thought that the SIJs are often, if not routinely, the children of illegal aliens is supported by the fact that members of the class from all over the world except those from the Northern Triangle and Mexico can be adjusted immediately to legal status. The wait time for those latter juveniles is four and a half years, and two years, respectively, according to the current Visa Bulletin. And those nations, of course, are leading suppliers of illegal aliens.
Fortunately, the SIJs belong to a numerically limited category, (EB-4) and theirs is not a large class. These are the totals for most recent four years for which we have data:
Special Immigrant Juveniles
Source: Table 7 in the Yearbooks of Immigration
Statistics for 2017-2020.
Just how one can be a dependent of a juvenile court in the States and simultaneously a resident of another nation is something I will let others explain. Incidentally, if an SIJ is admitted to the U.S. rather than being adjusted (there are few in this category) his or her parents are not illegal aliens, not illegal in the U.S., anyway, because they are not here.