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MIAMI (CBSMiami/NSF) – In a pair of similar cases, a South Florida appeals court Wednesday turned down dependency requests by teens from El Salvador and Honduras who want to apply for permanent residency in the United States.

In both cases, the teens’ petitions for dependency were based on abandonment by their fathers in their native countries. The teens moved to Florida, where they lived with their mothers.

The 3rd District Court of Appeal rulings said determinations of dependency would allow the teens to qualify for an immigration status that would, in turn, enable them to apply for permanent residency, or “green cards.” But the appeals court said the teens did not meet the legal requirements for being declared dependent, at least in part, because they lived with their mothers.

Both teens are identified in the cases only by initials. But the teen from El Salvador, for example, said she fled to the United States in 2014 because of threats and harassment from gang members, according to the court opinion.

The Honduran teen entered the United States in 2013. Appeals court Chief Judge Frank Shepherd wrote a concurring opinion in the case of the teen from El Salvador, identified as B.Y.G.M., in which he said “one cannot blame these illegal immigrant children from exploring any lawful means of remaining in the United States after arriving here.” But he said she did not qualify to be declared dependent.

“We correctly decline to declare B.Y.G.M. dependent on the courts of this state for the sole purpose of assisting her to obtain a legal immigration status,” Shepherd wrote. “We are not empowered to promote or incent immigration outcomes in conflict with the law and policies of our national government. … B.Y.G.M.’s recourse in this case is to the United States Congress, however cumbersome that route may be.”

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