AG Underwood sues Trump administration over special immigration policy

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BAY SHORE -

New York state is suing the Trump administration over its latest immigration policy change — which revokes protections for some young people between the ages of 18 and 21.

Attorney General Barbara Underwood filed a brief in federal court Thursday to challenge the federal government's denial of special immigrant juvenile status, or SIJ, to New York state applicants.

Evelyn Ulloa, who asked not to show her face on TV because she says she's spent most of her life living in fear, says her mother abandoned her in her native El Salvador. Later, gangs in school threatened her. 

Now she lives in Bay Shore, and she recently graduated from Brentwood High School.

"I feel better, because I know nothing will happen to me here," she says.

So she applied for the SIJ program. It lets young people under 21 years old who have been abused, abandoned or neglected by one or both parents obtain a green card.

But the Trump administration made an unannounced policy reversal that led to her application's denial, she says. It happened to other applicants in New York, too.

The Trump administration says that because the New York State Family Court's authority ends at 18, people older than that no longer qualify for SIJ.

That means Ulloa, who is 20, now faces deportation. She has a hearing in less than three weeks.

Underwood argues the Trump administration is denying permanent resident applications for unaccompanied immigrant minors based on a misinterpretation of state law. 

"It's essentially the federal government overstepping their authority and trying to tell a family court that they're not able to make their own decisions," says Ala Amoachi, an immigration attorney.

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