Horvitz & Levy persuaded the California Supreme Court to reverse a Court of Appeal decision, paving the way for our pro bono client to seek permanent resident status in the United States.
After traveling alone and undocumented from his El Salvador home to the United States when he was 16, Saul H. petitioned the superior court to make findings that are a prerequisite to applying to the federal government for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, which creates a pathway for undocumented immigrants under 21 to become permanent residents. Under federal law, the status depends first on a state court finding that “reunification with 1 or both of the immigrant’s parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or a similar basis found under State law” and that “it would not be in [their] best interest to be returned to [their] or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence.”
After the superior court refused to make the findings, Horvitz & Levy agreed to represent Saul on a pro bono basis and work with his trial counsel at Immigrant Defenders to challenge the superior court's decision.
After the Court of Appeal affirmed the superior court, Horvitz & Levy successfully petitioned the California Supreme Court for review. The court said it granted review "to provide guidance on the statutory requirements governing California courts’ issuance of special immigrant juvenile predicate findings."
The Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal and directed that the superior court "expeditiously issue an order granting Saul’s petition for SIJ predicate findings." The Supreme Court concluded, "returning Saul to live with his parents would not be workable or practical because he would face a substantial risk that he would suffer serious harm as a result of his parents’ inability to protect him from gang violence while providing for his basic needs and education," and also, "returning Saul to live in El Salvador would be detrimental to his health, safety, and welfare, and accordingly contrary to his 'best interest[ ].' ”
Horvitz & Levy has received multiple awards for our victory in Guardianship of Saul H., including the Daily Journal's CLAY award 2023 and Top Verdicts of 2022.