S.F.A.C. v. Department of Children and Families, 2015 WL 9584395 (Fla. 3rd DCA)

The majority issued a per curium decision, affirming denial of S.F.A.C.’s private petition for dependency. Justice Salter dissented.

S.F.A.C. was born in Honduras and left by his parents with an older sibling when he was nine years old. When he was twelve years old, he was sent to live with an aunt. The aunt and her husband forced him to work, mistreated him, yelled at him, limited his food and were aggressive towards him. S.F.A.C. and his sister fled to the United States through Mexico. After being detained, S.F.A.C. was released to his mother’s custody in Miami. In his dependency petition, S.F.A.C. alleged that he was abandoned by each of his parents, that he had no parent or custodian capable of providing care for him and that he was at substantial risk of imminent abuse, abandonment or neglect by his parent or custodian.

Salter reiterated his belief that these cases warrant individualized adjudication. Salter proposed the Florida courts follow the New Jersey procedure or something similar.   In arguing against “a categorical, summary denial of all juvenile immigrant petitions . . . followed by the categorical and summary affirmance of those circuit court denial orders on appellate review,” Salter urged “we cannot lose sight of the fact that each immigrant juvenile petitioner is a child inside our state borders . . and that each such petitioner is equal to other Florida children under the law.”