Immigrant youth in California and across the country are facing serious concerns when attempting to regularize their statuses. Since 1990, the U.S. government has allowed immigrant youth who were abused or abandoned by their parents to seek a green card with the assistance of a court-appointed guardian, allowing them to stay in the country. Under the law, people seeking to access the protections provided by this program must apply before their 21st birthday. However, the Trump administration has begun to claim that some applicants are too old to access the program after the age of 18.

Applicants in New Jersey have faced additional questioning while more young immigrants in New York, California and Texas have been denied green cards when applying under the program. Immigration advocacy organizations are fighting back, filing legal challenges in both California and New York and saying that hundreds of young people could be at risk as a result. Attorneys involved in the case said that Trump administration policy is negatively affecting vulnerable young people. Over 50,000 young people have obtained green cards by qualifying for this special status since 2010.

This comes amid a range of administration policies that have targeted immigrant children and youth. The administration issued a guidance making it more difficult for young people from Central America fleeing domestic or gang violence to access protection under asylum laws. In addition, children caught on the border have been separated from their parents or detained for extended periods of time rather than being released to family in the United States.

Trump administration policies have led to significant concerns for many immigrants seeking to change their statuses or seek asylum in the United States. An immigration attorney could help a client move forward with a green card application and provide a defense against deportation attempts.