In re L. F. O. C., Minor.
Circuit Court Family Division LC No. 16-000209-AY
Before: Sawyer, P.J., and Saad and Riordan, JJ.
JAS and AEO, appeal as of right an order denying their motion
for special findings on the issue of "special immigrant
juvenile" (SIJ) status for the minor child, LFOC, in
this stepparent adoption case. We reverse the trial
court's determination that it lacked authority to make
such findings and remand for consideration of
petitioners' motion on the merits.
an undocumented juvenile immigrant from Honduras. AEO, the
mother of LFOC, is married to JAS; they live in Michigan.
LFOC's biological father is CCO. JAS and AEO filed a
petition for stepparent adoption of LFOC by JAS. Following a
hearing, the trial court terminated CCO's parental rights
to LFOC, granted the request for a stepparent adoption, and
placed LFOC in petitioners' home. Petitioners then filed
a motion for special findings on the issue of LFOC's SIJ
status. In particular, petitioners asked the trial court to
make the following findings:
1. That [LFOC] has been declared dependent upon a juvenile
2. That reunification with one or both of [LFOC's]
parents is not viable due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or
a similar basis found under State law;
3. That it is not in [LFOC's] best interest to be
returned to his country of origin; and
4. Any other relief this Court deems just and proper.
sought these findings so that LFOC could then submit a
request to the United States Citizenship and Immigration
Services (USCIS), a division of the United States Department
of Homeland Security (USDHS), for SIJ status pursuant to 8
USC 1101(a)(27)(J). The trial court denied the request,
stating, in relevant part, that it lacked authority to issue
the requested findings.
appeal, petitioners argue that the trial court erred in
concluding that it lacked authority to make the requested
factual findings pertinent to the issue of SIJ status. We
of law, including statutory interpretation, are reviewed de
novo on appeal." Gorman v American Honda Motor Co,
Inc, 302 Mich.App. 113, 116; 839 N.W.2d 223 (2013). This
standard of review applies to the interpretation of federal
statutes and regulations:
Statutory interpretation is a question of law we review de
novo, as is the interpretation of administrative regulations.
This standard applies to the interpretation of federal
statutes and regulations, though reasonable administrative
interpretations of regulations operating as statutory
gap-fillers are entitled to deference. Clear and unambiguous
statutory language is given its plain meaning, and is
enforced as written. [In re Petition of Attorney General
for Investigative Subpoenas, 274 Mich.App. 696, 698; 736
N.W.2d 594 (2007) (quotation marks and citations omitted).]
issues are also reviewed de novo. Pontiac Food Ctr v
Dep't of Community Health, 282 Mich.App. 331, 335;
766 N.W.2d 42 (2008). A trial court's factual findings
are reviewed for clear error. See MCR 2.613(C); In re
ALZ, 247 Mich.App. 264, 271; 636 N.W.2d 284 (2001).
"A finding is clearly erroneous if, although there is
evidence to support it, we are left with a definite and firm
conviction that a mistake was made." In re ALZ,
247 Mich.App. at 271-272.
hearing on the motion for special findings on the issue of
SIJ status, the trial court initially noted that
"classification based upon alienage is reserved solely
for the federal government, so I'm not supposed to pay
attention to that." The trial court went on to recognize
that "[h]ere the request I have asks me to do something
that's at least slightly different from that." The
trial court then described the findings that it was being
asked to make and concluded that it had difficulty making
those findings with what had been presented to the court. The
trial court entered an order finding that the criteria for
SIJ status had not been satisfied. At the hearing on
petitioners' motion for reconsideration, the trial court
again stated that only the federal government may classify on
the basis of alienage and stated that the court lacked the
"power" or "authority" to make the
requested decisions. Given that the trial court stated that
it lacked authority to make findings on the issue of SIJ
status, we agree with petitioners that it is necessary to
address whether the trial court has such authority.
Immigration and Nationality Act of 1990 (Act) first
established SIJ status as a path for resident immigrant
children to achieve permanent residency in the United
States." In reEstate of Nina L ex rel
Howerton, 2015 Ill.App. 152223; 397 Ill. Dec 279,
282-283; 41 NE3d 930 (2015). ...