The Supreme Court is considering a case that might save a large group of immigrants from deportation: young adults who “aged out” of earning visas due to the years of drawn-out visa processing.
Allana Rambharose, 21, was deported back to Guyana at the age of 19 after living in the United States since the age of 4. She spent two years there, missing her family and life in New York the whole time, until she was allowed back in the U.S. for humanitarian reasons. She’s waiting on her green card— permanent residency or citizen status is still out of reach.
"It still doesn't make sense," Rambharose told the New York Daily News. “I feel like I am being punished."
A new case being considered by the Supreme Court, Mayorkas v. Cuellar de Osorio, may change things for immigrants like Rambharose—children who “aged out” of receiving visas because their families’ green cards took too long to be processed. Visa backlogs made these young adults victims, the opportunity to receive more permanent residency status disappearing the moment they turned 21.
The case involves a provision of the Child Status Protection Act of 2002, which was intended as a remedy for this very problem. The case argues that children listed as beneficiaries for all types of visa petitions, not just those filed by parents who are permanent residents, should not have to wait in limbo for new visas once they turn 21. As the government narrowly interprets the act now, these young adults have to restart the visa process once they become adults, despite the fact that their parents had filed for visas much earlier—and the government hadn’t gotten around to reviewing their cases.
"We think that the wider group of aged-out children are entitled to this benefit," said Mary Kenney, senior attorney at American Immigration Council. "It makes a big difference for a lot of people."
Rambharose currently faces a wait of up to six years for her green card, and must renew her humanitarian visa status every year. Other immigrants from Mexico, the Philippines, and other countries face waits of 30 to 100 years.
"This made me stronger in a way, but there's still no option for me to get my residency or my citizenship," said Rambharose, a student at Baruch College in New York. "That's what I really want, because I've lived here my entire life."