Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a protective status granted to immigrant children that are survivors of abuse, neglect, or abandonment by one of their parents. When granted, the child may qualify for lawful permanent residency, also known as a Green Card, which allows them to remain legally in the United States. In addition, children who qualify for SIJS can become residents through adjustment of status; they do not have to leave the USA to get their residency. In this video, immigration attorney Jennifer Walker Gates details the steps and what is needed to qualify for SIJS.



Many of the unaccompanied children crossing the border are eligible for the Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SIJS) program. If you know a child that crossed the border unaccompanied and wants to help them, the SIJS program can allow a child to stay in the country and eventually obtain legal permanent residency without having to go back to their country of origin. But in Texas, the child must apply before they turn 18, so contact us as soon as possible.

Alejandro Mayorkas, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announced that the number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border dropped by 12%. However, there are still many unaccompanied children crossing the border and Secretary Mayorkas is committed to ensuring these children are quickly processed and kept in a safe, child-friendly environment.

If you desire to become a sponsor for an unaccompanied immigrant minor but are afraid your own immigration status won’t allow it. Jennifer explains that not having legal permanent residency in the United States is not an impediment. The goal is to move all the children into safe environments as quickly as possible. If you know a child in this situation and you wish to assist them, feel free to contact us and schedule a consultation.


Interview with Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, Texas legendary Activist and Organizer.



We were so proud and honored to have the chance to interview legendary activist and organizer, Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez about her latest projects, Jolt and Latino Families Forward. Cristina is a dynamo and a force to be reckoned with. If you want some inspiration and hope for the future of our country, definitely check out this video!


For U.S. Citizens: Here’s How and Why to Contact Your Elected Representatives.

One key aspect of our democratic system involves contacting our members of Congress about issues that matter to us. Each time you call, write, email or fax your member of Congress, his or her office staff must stop and make a recording of your communication. The more letters, notes, faxes, and emails you send, and the more calls you make – or better yet, the more you visit their offices – the more staff time you consume. When we contact them repeatedly about issues that matter, we can sometimes actually get the attention of our elected officials. For these reasons, we at WGV are asking all of our U.S. Citizen clients to contact their members of Congress.

Here are some ways to do it:

Text Them!

A wonderful new smart phone app allows you to quickly and easily send a text message to your elected representatives – the app converts your text into a fax that is then sent to your Senators’ offices. To use, just text the word “Resist” to 50-409 and follow the instructions. Each time you would like to send a new fax, simply re-text the word “Resist.” Feel free to text them every single day!

Send them mail!

For your convenience, WGV has printed several hundred new pro-immigrant post cards (image above). In addition, we have pre-addressed these for congressional representatives from around Texas as well as for the White House. Come on in to the office and fill out some cards. We’ll gladly stamp and send them for you.

Call them!

In the age of the smart phone, it is easy to put your member of Congress on speed dial. Each member has at least two or three offices – one in DC and at least one in the area they represent. Call every office and recruit friends and family members from around the state and country to call as well. All it takes is approximately a dozen calls on a particular issue to really make an impact. And it’s free!

WGV is here to help

We at WGV are glad to support friends and clients in their efforts to participate in our democracy. Our office staff can provide translation, assist with looking up representatives and contact information, and send correspondence for you to the President and Congress.

Support the Dream Act of 2017!

A bi-partisan group of law-makers has introduced the Dream Act of 2017. If passed, this law would serve to provide permanent resident status to those in our community who arrived in the USA as children and have grown up here.

This program would be an enormous benefit to our families, our communities, and our economy. However, the President has indicated that he intends to use the proposal as a bargaining chip in his battle to secure Congressional funding for a border wall and ramped up deportations.

Our law-makers need to know how we feel about these issues. Please contact your members of Congress and say:

  1. Please support the DREAM Act of 2017 as written.
  2. No funding for Trump’s border wall.
  3. No increased detention and deportation of our immigrant community.
  4. Please pass Comprehensive Immigration Reform!


The Rights of Immigrant Children in the United States

Immigrant children in the United States have many of the same rights as children who are lawfully in the United States. Immigrant kids have a right to enroll in school. They can enroll in any public school and to receive services in school that any other child, whether born in the United States or born outside of the United States, can receive. They also have a right to MAP, which is the Medical Assistance Program of Travis County. This is a special health insurance program that exists in Travis County for people with limited financial resources, where immigration status is not taken into account for eligibility. Immigrant children also have the right to have their parents go to court for divorces, for protective orders, or for custody of the children, without regards to their immigration status. Immigrant children also have the right the fight their case in immigration court and to request asylum or any other immigration benefit that they might be entitled to.

If a child is in danger, he or she should request asylum so he’s not sent back to a dangerous situation. There are special processes for kids that allow kids to have a non-adversarial hearing, and if kids don’t request asylum when they first come to the US, it becomes harder if they’re sent back the their country and need to return to the US for their safety for them to get the same benefits.

The child, him or herself, can request an asylum interview and can say that she wants to apply for asylum. A parent or a guardian can say that the child needs asylum and can express that fear of return to the court or to the shelter where the child is living. Or any adult who knows the child and who knows that the child could be in danger in her country should request an asylum interview on behalf of the child.

For children who are under 18 years old, there are special processes to request asylum. They are allowed a chance to speak with an immigration asylum official rather than a judge to request asylum. And if they are not granted at the asylum office when speaking with an immigration official, they have a second chance to request asylum before an immigration judge.

It’s important to talk about why you’re scared, to talk about specific experiences that made you scared or feel threatened in your home country, and to express how these experiences affected you personally. You should also discuss who you’re scared of. If there’s a particular person or group that you’re afraid will hurt you in particular, if you’ve been threatened by this group or if you’ve ever been physically hurt or harmed by this person or group, and then to discuss whether there are other people who have the same fear as you and why they have the same fear as you. If you know others who have been hurt, or harmed, or threatened by the person or group that you fear, mention that. Lastly, you should discuss why you think this danger still exists in your country, mentioning whether you could go anywhere else to be safe or whether the whole country is a place where you might be in danger. In particular, you should be very specific and mention as much detail as you can, and always tell the truth in your asylum interview.

Jennifer Walker Gates On G+

How to determine if your immigrant child is in the U.S.A.

On June 19, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) — the government agency tasked with processing, housing, and caring for unaccompanied immigrant children — opened a telephone hotline for individuals wanting to know whether their child is in ORR care.

The number is 1-800-203-7001 and will be operational 7 days a week from 9:00AM to 9:00PM Eastern Standard Time. Individuals searching for a child should have the child’s name, date of birth, and any important or identifying information about the child (for example, scars, birthmarks, or medications required). The telephone operator, who is a Spanish speaker, will take down the information about the child and the caller’s contact information. He or she will then conduct a search of ORR systems to determine if the child is in ORR care. If the child is, in fact, in ORR custody, the child’s case worker will be provided with the caller’s contact information, and the caller will be contacted by the case worker as soon as is practicable.

The packet of documents required to reunite a child with his or her parent or sponsor is called the Family Reunification Packet. The packet includes an Application for Family Reunification, and is available in Spanish and English. All required documents are on ORR’s website (link below) under “Key Documents for the Unaccompanied Children’s Services Program.”


If you are the parent or caregiver of an immigrant minor, and would like assistance exploring immigration-related legal issues related to your child, please contact us at (512) 633-1785 or via our website contact form to schedule a consultation.