June 19, 2020

KIND Spotlights Michael Scerbo’s Efforts to Secure Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for Guatemalan Child

2 min

On June 19, 2020, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) featured Michael Scerbo in its Pro Bono Attorney Spotlight for his work on behalf of a child from Guatemala seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. After fleeing to the United States to escape domestic abuse and gang violence, the client took up residence in New York, where an adult friend helped him secure housing and employment and offered to become his legal guardian. Mr. Scerbo has worked on the case for approximately ten months, meeting extensively with the client and his proposed guardian before filing a guardianship petition and a motion for a special findings order in the Richmond County Family Court in September 2019. After multiple hearings and supplemental briefing, the Court issued both orders, enabling the client to petition for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.

The following is an excerpt from a Q&A with Mr. Scerbo published in KIND’s monthly newsletter:

What have you learned from this experience or from your KIND clients?

I learned a lot from this experience. I'm an intellectual property attorney, so immigration was outside of my comfort zone. My case involved seeking Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for our client, which required submitting a guardianship petition in Richmond County Family Court, followed by filing a motion for a special findings order, and arguing that motion. Then, at the final merits hearing, I put on a direct examination of my client.

I learned the importance of persistence and creativity. There were times when we felt like there might have been too many barriers to obtaining the special findings order. But through collaboration with the team at KIND and dedication to our client, we were able to convince the judge to issue both the guardianship and special findings orders.

KIND was founded in 2008 to address the gap in legal services for unaccompanied minors in the United States. Through strategic partnerships, it provides pro bono legal representation for refugee and migrant children across the country.