Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Public Policy Analysis

Second Department


Reader 1

Gilda Ochoa

Reader 2

Arely Zimmerman

Reader 3


Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Lanna S Sanchez


As of May 2016, the U.S. State Department officially declared a priority date for all green cards for applicants from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that capped the number of visas granted to individuals from these three countries to just 10,000 per year. This inherently created a two to three-year backlog for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status applicants from these countries as well, meaning that SIJS petitioners will remain undocumented for periods of up to six years until their petition is adjudicated by USCIS and their priority date arrives. I research whether the increasingly difficult path to obtaining permanent residency through a Special Immigrant Juvenile Status petition is a result of a change in federal administrations––– between former President Obama’s covert mechanisms of marginalization and deportation of Central Americans to the overtly anti-immigrant rhetoric stemming from Trump––– or if SIJS backlogs are an inevitable phenomenon resulting from U.S. imperialism in Central America throughout the 20th century. I ground my research on pre-existing literature that explains the legal processes of obtaining permanent residency through a SIJS petition and include scholars’ criticisms of the interpretation of the policy by state and federal courts. To exemplify the complications that youth face while petitioning for SIJ status, I also incorporate the perceptions and experiences of several attorneys who have represented SIJS applicants and my own interpretations of how judges treat SIJS applicants courtrooms throughout Los Angeles County.