July 26, 2023  |  News

Trisha H.S.T. Akagi and Stacey F. Gray Obtain Special Immigrant Juvenile Status for Pro Bono Client

Hawaii, Oahu

Trisha H.S.T. Akagi, a partner in Cades Schutte’s Litigation Department, and Stacey F. Gray, an associate in Cades Schutte’s Litigation Department, successfully obtained Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) for their pro bono child client, working together with the William S. Richardson School of Law Refugee and Immigration Law Clinic (RILC).

SIJS is a crucial immigration status designed to protect children who have experienced abuse, abandonment, or neglect from one or both parents. With SIJS, eligible children can apply for lawful permanent residency once an immigrant visa becomes available to them. As this was Trisha’s and Stacey’s first pro bono SIJS case, partner Lisa K. Swartzfager worked alongside them providing guidance and mentorship. Lisa has taken on numerous pro bono SIJS cases for the Refugee & Immigration Law Clinic (RILC).

Lisa, together with her colleagues from Cades Schutte, was also responsible for drafting and the passage of a bill that ensured Hawai‘i aligned with the federal SIJS requirements by providing that the family courts in Hawai‘i have jurisdiction over all individuals under the age of 21 for purposes of SIJS findings.

Trisha and Stacey represented their client throughout the complex legal process, diligently securing the predicate order from the Hawai‘i family court, obtaining the SIJS grant from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and ultimately achieving the dismissal of their client’s deportation case from Immigration Court.

Professor Esther Sungeun Yoo, Director of the RILC, provided her with support throughout the representation. Professor Yoo has been involved in advocating for vulnerable populations from her time as a staff attorney at the local nonprofit, The Legal Clinic Hawaii, to her current position at the RILC.

“Trisha’s and Stacey’s compassion, dedication, and hard work have transformed the life of their client,” said Trever K. Asam, Cades Schutte’s pro bono Coordinator. “Their efforts will resonate for years to come and we are proud to support them and others at the firm who serve our community.”

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