Judge Affirms Nebraska's Denial of Extended Foster Care to Immigrant Youth

November 13, 2018 AT 10:30 AM

By Lori Pilger

A judge has affirmed the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services' denial of extended foster care benefits to three 19-year-olds from Guatemala because they aren't citizens.

Lancaster County District Judge Kevin McManaman said nowhere in the state law defining eligibility for the Bridge to Independence (B2I) Program is there "any expression, positive or otherwise," to justify the conclusion the Legislature intended for them to be eligible for enrollment in the program.

The Nebraska Appleseed Foundation filed the lawsuits on behalf of three teenagers granted federal Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

The status means they aren't U.S. citizens but ended up in foster care here after being abused, abandoned or neglected by their parents, and having courts determine that returning them to their home country wouldn't be in their best interest.

Under the status, they can apply for green cards to live and work permanently in the U.S. But the process takes years, said attorney Mindy Rush Chipman of the Immigrant Legal Center, who represented two of the three teens.

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