Levine Legislation to Ensure Undocumented Foster Youth Receive Immigration Legal Services in California Signed by Governor Newsom

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO, CA) - Legislation by Assemblymember Marc Levine (D- Marin County) to ensure undocumented foster youth receive the immigration legal representation they are entitled to was signed Tuesday by Governor Newsom. AB 829 requires counties to make their best efforts to provide undocumented foster youth with access to immigration legal services to help them become permanent United States residents.

AB 829 builds on two previous bills authored by Assemblymember Levine; AB 900 (Chapter 694 of  2015), which allows a guardian to be appointed to an undocumented youth who is between ages 18 and 21 to assist the youth with a petition for federal Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) and provide support and permanency for the youth, and AB 2642 (Chapter 103 of 2018), which allows nonprofit charitable corporations incorporated out of state, but licensed in California to be appointed as a guardian of unaccompanied youth to provide care and make the findings necessary for SIJS. This law was set to sunset in 2022, and AB 829 removes the sunset.

The Special Immigration Juvenile Status (SIJS) was created to help abused and neglected undocumented children gain lawful permanent residency in the United States, but is difficult to obtain without legal representation and support. There is currently no statewide policy in place to ensure that undocumented foster youth receive the immigration legal resources required to attain permanent residency before exiting foster care.

AB 829 helps youth retain the immigration counsel necessary to do so by requiring that counties make their best efforts to provide access to legal immigration services and requiring counties to notify youths’ attorneys of their immigration status to better facilitate this process.

“Undocumented youth are exiting foster care without the legal resources necessary to become legal residents, and this can have significant impacts on their opportunities as adults,” said Assemblymember Levine. “AB 829 ensures that counties connect undocumented foster youth with legal representation they are entitled to before they exit care to give them better opportunities and stability in adulthood.”
AB 829 is sponsored by the Children's Law Center of California, the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and Legal Services for Children.

“As attorneys for over 35,000 children and youth in foster care, Children’s Law Center of California thanks Governor Newsom for signing AB 829 into law,” said Luciana Svidler, Senior Policy Attorney for the Children’s Law Center of California. “Although undocumented children in foster care are entitled to immigration relief, too often children are exiting the system without appropriate relief due to limited access to legal services. This can have lifelong consequences – impacting the youth’s ability to work or attend college. Significantly, AB 829 will enhance access to immigration legal services, so children in foster care have all the tools they need to transition to adulthood successfully. We are grateful to Assembly Member Levine for his unwavering commitment to this issue and California’s foster youth.”

“Legal Services for Children is thrilled that AB 829 has been signed by the Governor,” said Abigail Trillin, Executive Director for Legal Services for Children. “This legislation will help ensure that California’s foster youth have access to immigration legal services, which are essential to their success. We are proud to have co-sponsored this critical legislation and look forward to seeing its impact on immigrant youth.”

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Assemblymember Marc Levine represents California’s 10th Assembly District, which includes Marin and Sonoma counties.
Connect with Assemblymember Levine on social media: @AsmMarcLevine.