Helping Separated Children and Families
The family separation crisis is far from over. Hundreds of families remain torn apart. Parents and children face lasting trauma as a result of their sudden, and in many cases, ongoing separation. Limited access to counsel, frequent facility transfers, deportation, and coercion have impeded the ability of thousands of parents and children to learn about their legal rights and to have their claims for humanitarian protection fully and fairly heard.
This due process emergency poses profound consequences for separated children. The federal government must not limit their legal rights or access to due process.
KIND urges the government to respect children’s legal rights and process their immigration cases in the following ways:
KIND’s Myths vs. Facts
Children first and foremost
Regardless of where they are from or their immigration status, unaccompanied children need and deserve to be protected as children first and foremost. We attempt to broaden understanding of these children among a range of stakeholders and the public by educating them about experiences that forced these children out of their communities and drove them to come alone to the United States; the lack of fair access to the U.S. protection system after they arrive; and the potential dangers that many of these children face upon return to their home country. Towards this goal, we work with federal agencies, Capitol Hill, and other law and policymakers to help ensure that unaccompanied children receive fair and appropriate treatment while in the U.S. immigration system.
How the Trump Administration is Rolling Back Protections for Children
Since its first days, the Trump Administration has sought to limit protections for some of the most vulnerable migrants seeking protection in this country—unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children. These protections, which were carefully crafted over 20 years through bipartisan dialogue and collaboration in Congress, are grounded in basic child welfare principles. These procedural protections recognize that a child who has taken a life-threatening journey of hundreds, if not thousands, of miles—without a parent or legal guardian—is uniquely at-risk and should be treated in ways that help promote fundamental fairness in helping the child access the U.S. immigration system to ensure that we do not return a child to the often life-threatening harm they have fled.
- On November 6, 2018, KIND submitted the public comments urging DHS and HHS to withdraw proposed regulations seeking to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement, expand the government’s ability to detain children for longer periods, and weaken standards and protections related to the treatment of children in immigration custody.
- On November 27,2018, KIND submitted the public comments on revisions proposed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) relating to Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, and related guidance.
- On December 7, 2018, KIND submitted the public comments below on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” (“Proposed Rule”), issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on October 10, 2018 (83 FR 51114).
- On January 8, 2019, KIND submitted the public comments urging DHS and DOJ to withdraw the interim final rule, which impedes access to lifesaving asylum protection for unaccompanied children and others fleeing threats to their lives and safety, and in so doing, violates both the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 (TVPRA).
Capitol Hill Outreach
KIND works to ensure that legislation in Congress addresses the needs of unaccompanied children and improves their protection.
Currently KIND is working to secure resources and federal funding for unaccompanied immigrant children in the President’s Budget Request and the Fiscal Year 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science; Homeland Security; Labor, Health and Human Services; and State and Foreign Operations and Related Agencies appropriations bills.
KIND is also supports legislation and appropriations that improves the protection of unaccompanied children.
- To protect the information obtained by the Secretary of Health and Human Services for the placement of unaccompanied alien children from being used for any purpose other than providing safe and secure placements, and for other purposes (H.R.7030) introduced in the House by Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23),
- Central America Reform and Enforcement (CARE) Act (S. 3540) introduced by Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), outlines the coordinated regional response needed to effectively manage the endemic violence and humanitarian crisis in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras that is forcing local women, children, and families to flee to seek refuge in the U.S.
- Read KIND’s statement on the CARE Act here.
- Reunite Every Unaccompanied Newborn Infant, Toddler and Other Children Expeditiously (REUNITE) Act (S.3227), introduced by Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), calls to immediately reunify all families and establish a permanent system of coordination between agencies and non-governmental organizations to protect detained immigrants with children.
- Keep Families Together Act (H.R.6135) introduced by Congressman Jerry Nadler (NY-10) and co-sponsored by over 190 House Democrats.
- Central America Family Protection and Reunification Act (H.R.6193), introduced by Representative Eliot Engel (Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee), Representative Norma Torres (Co-Chair of the Central America Caucus) and Representative Adriano Espaillat (a member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee).
- Fair Day in Court for Kids Act (S. 2540 & H.R. 4646) introduced in the Senate by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and in the House of by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19). The bill is a just and efficient way to address the enormous due process gap faced by tens of thousands of children who have come alone to the U.S. seeking safety. Mandating counsel for unaccompanied children helps ensure that we do not return these children to grave harm and improves the effectiveness of our immigration court system.
- Secure the Northern Triangle Act (S.3106 & H.R. 5850) introduced in the Senate by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and in the House by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19). The bill is designed to create a coordinated regional response to better protect refugees and asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Read KIND’s press release on the bill here.
- Refugee Protection Act of 2016 (S.3241 & H.R. 5851) introduced in the Senate by Senator Patrick Leahy ( D-VT) and in the House by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19). This bill ensures the United States remains a global leader in the protection of those fleeing persecution.
KIND works with federal agencies to ensure that policy, practice, and procedure reflect the protections unaccompanied children are granted under U.S. law.
KIND advocates for the full implementation of the William Wilberforce Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. Many of the provisions of this bill are key to ensuring the safety, well-being, and fair treatment of unaccompanied children in the United States.
Public Education Materials
May 8, 2019: KIND led and was joined by 76 organizations, urging House and Senate leaders and relevant congressional committees to reject proposed rollbacks to the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) and the Flores Settlement agreement.
September 2018: KIND’s Statement for the Record for U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs on “The Implications of the Reinterpretation of the Flores Settlement Agreement for Border Security and Illegal Immigration Incentives”
May 2018: KIND joined with NGO’s in the U.S. and Central America in a letter sent to Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State, and Kirstjen Nielsen, Secretary of Homeland Security, opposing Mexico as a ‘Safe’ Third Country
May 2018: KIND released a report detailing how the Trump Administration is rolling back protections for children. These protections, which were carefully crafted over nearly 15 years through bipartisan dialogue and collaboration in Congress, are grounded in basic child welfare principles.
- Death by a Thousand Cuts: How the Trump Administration’s Systematic Assault on the Protection of Unaccompanied Children
- A Timeline: How the Trump Administration is Rolling Back Protections for Children
September 12, 2017: KIND joined 350 other organizations in a letter sent to the House of Representatives opposing the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act, (H.R. 3697).
September 8, 2017: The Building America’s Trust Act of 2017 (S.1757), introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and six co-sponsors on August 3, cruelly and needlessly deprives child refugees of due process and decreases protections for the most vulnerable. The bill drastically alters due process protections for unaccompanied children and child refugees and threatens to return children to persecution and harm in their home countries.
June 21, 2017: KIND submitted a joint statement for the record with LIRS and WRC on The Protection of Children Act of 2017, H.R. 495 for a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 21, 2017.
September 20, 2016: KIND participated in a U.N. Shadow Summit which looked at the U.S. response to Central American refugees in its own backyard, specifically the policy response to unaccompanied children and families fleeing violence in the Northern Triangle of Central America.
- Ahead of U.S. Refugee Summit, Experts Host Shadow Summit to Discuss U.S. Response to Central American Refugees
July 27, 2016: Read KIND’s response to the Obama Administration’s expansion of the refugee resettlement processing program.
February 24, 2016: Following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the issue, policy experts gathered today to discuss the current state of play of the humanitarian crisis brewing in Central America and outline steps the U.S. can and should take to ensure due process protections for those seeking asylum, as well as to address the root causes of the instability causing them to flee.
- As Violence in Northern Triangle Escalates, U.S. Has Moral Obligation to Protect Vulnerable Populations From Harm
February 4, 2016: Read and listen to KIND’s response to a House Immigration Subcommittee meeting on conditions in Central America.
- Following House Immigration Subcommittee Hearing, Policy Experts, Advocates Discuss Fair and Humane Treatment of Central American Refugees and Their Families Fleeing Violence in Northern Triangle.
June 22, 2015: Read KIND’s review of the Administrations handling of the child and family refugee situation and recommendations for moving forward.
March 10, 2015: KIND wrote the following letter urging Senators to oppose Senator Inhofe’s amendment 276 to the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S.178):
February 11, 2015: KIND, the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS), and the Women’s Refugee Commission (WRC), submitted a statement for a hearing on immigration enforcement legislation for the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security: