Immigration Law

EOIR GenCou Legal Opinion, Unaccompanied Alien Child, TVPRA (Sept. 19, 2017)

Sept. 19, 2017, EOIR General Counsel - "You have asked the Office of General Counsel ("OGC") for a legal opinion addressing two issues: (I) whether the Department of Homeland Security's ("DHS") determination regarding an alien's status as an unaccompanied alien child ("UAC") is legally binding on the Executive Office for Immigration Review ("EOIR"); and (2) if an alien had UAC status previously but no longer meets the definition of UAC, does the alien lose the protections of the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 ("TVPRA"). OGC's opinion is that Immigration Judges are not bound by DHS's determination regarding whether a respondent is or is not a UAC. Instead, Immigration Judges may resolve any dispute about UAC status during the course of removal proceedings when such a determination bears on a respondent's eligibility for relief, or as part of a determination regarding the applicability of the initial jurisdiction provision set forth in section 208(b)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA" or "Act"), 8 U.S.C. § I 158(b)(3)(C). lt follows that a respondent who was previously designated as a UAC upon apprehension for purposes of placement in removal proceeding and/or an appropriate custodial setting may no longer be eligible for relief under the TVPRA if an Immigration Judge determines that the respondent no longer meets the definition of UAC."