The Ninth Circuit has issued an en banc decision finding that an Immigration Judge has the obligation to advise an individual in removal proceedings about potential eligibility for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) if eligibility for that relief is apparent. The court found that statements in the record that the minor had not had contact with his father for many years raised the inference that reunification with his father is not viable due to abandonment, and the death threats he received from the gang members raised the inference that it was not in the minor’s best interest to return to Honduras.

The en banc court also strongly suggested that a judge should grant a continuance for a minor to pursue SIJS when the child is “actively pursuing” the state-court order.

The court declined to address whether a minor in removal proceedings has a constitutional right to counsel, as the minor in this case obtained counsel in future administrative proceedings.

This en banc decision differs significantly from the original panel decision in this case, which conclusively determined that no such right exists, and also held that the the judge was not required to advise the minor about SIJS because hd did not yet have a predicate order from the state court. The en banc court stated that to require a minor to have already obtained a predicate order before requiring a judge to judge to advise about the possibility of SIJS relief “would eviscerate the utility of advice by the IJ and substantially undermine the core purpose of the IJ’s duty to advise—to inform a minor of rights and avenues of relief of which he may not yet be aware.”

The full text of C.J.L.G. v. Barr can be found here:

The original panel decision can be found here: