By Attorneys Robert L. Reeves and Anthony J. Favero
On July 19, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California named Reeves & Associates (R&A) the class counsel for all children and families affected by the government’s restrictive interpretation of the Child Status Protection Act. Since that time, our federal litigation team has devoted countless hours to researching and preparing arguments supporting our position that the Child Status Protection Act was designed to help all children of immigrants who “age-out,” thereby becoming ineligible to secure permanent resident status. Now, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled oral argument in the case for July 15, 2011.
The crux of our class action case challenges an incorrect and very narrow interpretation of section 203(h)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) by the Board of Immigration Appeals (“Board”) in Matter of Wang, 25 I&N Dec. 28 (BIA 2009). By its plain language, INA § 203(h)(3) allows immigrants who have “aged-out” of derivative status by turning 21 years old to both “automatically convert” to an appropriate visa category and retain their parent’s original priority date. The government argued that this provision applies only to a very small segment of immigrants — derivative children of husbands and wives petitioned by their lawful permanent resident spouses. On the other hand, the respondents argued for a broader interpretation of the law, stating that it applies to all children who “age-out,” not just derivative children of lawful permanent residents. Unfortunately, the Board ultimately sided with the government. As such, the government’s restrictive interpretation of INA § 203(h)(3) was upheld, and many “aged-out” children faced the possibility of starting their long wait for permanent resident status all over again.
However, due to the large number of intending immigrants negatively affected by the government’s inconsistent, restrictive interpretation of INA § 203(h)(3), Reeves & Associates filed a class action complaint in federal court. We asked the court to overrule the Board’s interpretation of INA § 203(h)(3) and argued for a more expansive reading of the law. We argued that the intent of Congress in passing the Child Status Protection Act was to protect all “aged-out” children by allowing them to retain their parent’s original priority dates. Now, we are poised to present these arguments to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 15, 2011. We remain optimistic of our chances at convincing the court that Matter of Wang is an unreasonable interpretation of the law, thereby winning a victory for “aged-out” children the world over. Please continue to read our weekly articles for updates regarding this important case.