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Annapolis pols to figure out when a boy is a man, CASA gift

The Judicial Committee in Maryland’s House of Delegates is due to hear testimony on a bill that would have undocumented “children” remain as “a child in need of assistance” in the eyes of the state circuits Feb. 6. Childhood would extend for these people until they are 21 while citizens are recognized as adults at 18.

While on its face HB 315 and SB 396 appear to set two types of standards, the bills are actually attempts to bring Maryland laws in conformance with federal standards.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) is a designation under federal law to assist certain undocumented children in obtaining lawful permanent residency. To qualify, one must have been abused, abandoned or neglected by at least one of the parents. Youth are allowed to qualify for SIJS up until their 21st birthday.

The Immigration and Nationality Act gives state juvenile courts the authority to make specific findings of fact regarding eligibility for SIJS. The circuit courts are the highest common law and equity courts of record exercising original jurisdiction within Maryland.

Question: Must the abusers be arrested by local authorities? This would be a step lawmakers could add to keep the national regulation from being abused in this state.

The bills were requested by Baltimore. Del. Curt Anderson (D-43) and Sen. Verna Jones-Rodwell (D-44) sponsored the bills.

Although the above bill is non-controversial, CASA de Maryland, Inc., seeks a $400,000 grant to build yet another welcome center. Rather than the state creating debt how about the Central American Solidarity Association hitting up its deep-pocketed donors for the money. State money could be better spent on job creation and job training for all Marylanders.

HB 514 has not been assigned hearing date. Considering it is sponsored by Del. Twanna Gaines (D-22), an Appropriations subcommittee chair, the proposal could come up at any time. The Senate version SB 518 is sponsored by Sen. Paul Pinsky (D-22).

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