b'OPENING THE DOOR TO A NEW BEGINNING(continued)his 21st birthday. This would enable him to remain in the countryWhile the family court case progressed in New Jersey, attorney in the custody of his aunt. To meet the deadlinejust over twoEllen Shapiro oversaw the process of compiling and filing the I-360 months awaythey needed direction from an organization withpetition for lawful permanent residence. SIJS experience to serve as a subject matter expert and provideBeingabletodohumanitarianworkthroughmyprofessionis guidance on obtaining the necessary findings from a state courtvery meaningful to me, Ellen said. I feel really grateful that Mintz in New Jersey. Attorney Narges Kakalia, now the firms Director ofis so dedicated to pro bono and allows its associates to take on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, connected with the Child Advocacythese opportunities.Clinic at Rutgers Law School, one of the few organizations with expertise in dealing with SIJS applicants over the age of 18, and theyThe day before Jons 21st birthday (and the day the 1-360 petition graciously agreed to help serve as mentors. was due at USCIS), the state court issued an oral order granting the AfterquicklydraftingandfilingpaperspetitioningthecourttoSIJS findings, specifically that Jon was a minor and custody should award custody of Jon to his Aunt Maria and make findings thatbegrantedtohisaunt.Becausethepetitionrequiresawritten would support his I-360 petition to USCIS for SIJS status, the teamorder, the lawyers delicately entreated the judge for one, then raced began preparing Jon and Maria for the hearing in late January.to get the papers shipped to a USCIS office in Chicago by 5:00 pm the Encouraging Jon and Maria to share enough details about theirfollowing day amid a snowstorm. experienceswhileremainingsensitivetothetraumaJonhadIt was not lost on us at all while we were working on this just what a sufferedwaschallenging,saidattorneyLexieGallo-Cook,whomonumental task this was in terms of the stakes and how much Jon argued at the hearings. After the judge unexpectedly asked for morereally stood to lose, Lexie said. evidence regarding Marias potential custody, the team assembledSinceJonwasstillinremovalproceedingsstemmingfromhis additional evidence and prepared for more testimony.detention, Mintz filed the SIJS findings with the federal immigration It was definitely a fine line between getting the court the informationcourt in New Jersey. As a backup plan, Mintz attorneys also helped they needed but being sensitive to our client, everything hed beenJon apply for asylum, obtaining physical signatures on documents through, and just how horrific the whole ordeal was, Lexie said. and presenting them in court despite extensive COVID-19-related Throughout the New Jersey court case, Narges provided guidance,restrictions and shutdowns in the tri-state area.while attorney Jason P.W. Halperin supervised and helped otherUSCIS granted Jons petition for SIJS status in June 2020, and later attorneys with hearing prep. Former Mintz attorneys David Drewthat summer, the Mintz team made a filing to terminate his removal andNathalieGormancontributedtothebrief,andNathalieand asylum proceedings. Also with Mintzs help, Jon filed for an also communicated with the clients in Spanish and assisted withadjustment of his immigration status and work authorization that the hearings and preparing the clients to testify. Attorney Toddfall. He continues to live with his aunt, and has since become a Rosenbaumadvisedtheteamonthehearingsandthegeneralpermanentresidentandreceivedauthorizationtoworkinthe strategy for the SIJS case. Behind the scenes, Eduardo and anotherUnited States. Attorney Meena Seralathan is currently assisting Jon former Mintz project analyst, Soraya Morales Nuez, also conveyedwith issues related to his case.informationtotheclientsinSpanishandtranslatednumerous documents for the case. In addition, several assistants providedJust the idea of a young person having gone through the kind of support, including Jennifer Sackman, Maureen Sullivan, and Tanyatrauma that he had and being able to help him recover from that in Johnson, along with Sylvia Belardo, who served as a translator. some small measure was really a great feeling, Narges said. Seeing I was incredibly proud of the Mintz team of attorneys and staff whohow much his relationship with his aunt meant to him and knowing really moved very, very quickly and did what they needed to do for that we were able to get him to stay with her permanently was Jon under intense circumstances, Jason said. It was truly a life orreally gratifying. death matter for the client.12 2021'