Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) strongly supports the Refugee Protection Act of 2016 introduced today by Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative Zoe Lofgren as vital legislation that will ensure the United States remains a global leader in the protection of those fleeing persecution.
“The Refugee Protection Act promotes fairness and safety, while upholding our nation’s commitment to the most vulnerable,” says KIND President Wendy Young. “Other nations look to our country as the exemplar for refugee protection and even more significantly, those fleeing danger around the world look to us as a safe haven from fear and oppression; this bill advances both of these important roles.”
KIND applauds the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act provision, which mandates counsel for children in immigration proceedings. Children are unable to represent themselves in our complex immigration system and the provision of counsel is the only way children can present their case and access protection. Only one in 10 children without attorneys gain immigration relief; however, children with attorneys are five times more likely to achieve status.
KIND also supports the requirement for guidelines and training to ensure that all children in Department of Homeland Security custody are screened for protection needs, and for child welfare professionals to help with this screening in at least seven Customs and Border Protection (CBP) stations. Recent reports have shown that CBP has been failing to screen children from Mexico adequately, returning the large majority to Mexico, and to potential harm.
“KIND thanks Senator Leahy and Representative Lofgren for their staunch leadership on refugee protection and for holding the United States to its core values,” Young said. “I look forward to working to advance this bill in Congress and to ensure that we protect refugees from faraway places such as Syria, as well as from our own backyard in Central America. All refugees deserve protection, regardless of where they are from.”