Washington, DC — The two Republican bills House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) plans to bring to a vote next week would decimate protections for unaccompanied children, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable immigrants and refugees. These politically motivated bills not only fail to sufficiently address the insecurity facing thousands of DREAMers and immigrant youth, but will imperil the lives of thousands of unaccompanied children and asylum seekers.
The Securing America’s Future Act of 2018 (H.R. 4760), introduced by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) in January 2018, risks returning Central American children to danger or even death in their home countries by requiring that all unaccompanied children be processed through expedited procedures that undermine their ability to express their need for protection. The bill allows unaccompanied children to be held in custody in inappropriate, overcrowded, and unsanitary adult facilities for extended periods, rather than quickly transferring them to child-centered care overseen by the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The White House bill sponsored by House Speaker Ryan, the full contents of which have yet to be released, includes similar attacks on critical protections for the most vulnerable by enabling the prolonged detention of children and increasing the likelihood that children will be rapidly deported without fair consideration of their claims for protection.
The White House has falsely claimed that these bills will solve the current family separation crisis at the border. Yet family separation, contrary to the Administration’s assertions, is not occurring by operation of law, but rather as the direct result of the Administration’s own prosecution policies targeting the most vulnerable. While the Administration has claimed that these bills are in the best interests of children and their parents, they are the opposite. They will result in families being held in custody for prolonged periods, including young children, and limit their access to legal protection.
Holding families in custody in adult detention facilities and decimating protections for unaccompanied children will not resolve the Administration’s self-made crisis that is forcing the separation of hundreds of children from their parents. The Administration should instead promote the fair and humane treatment of children and families in our immigration system, including through the use of alternatives to detention, and ensure that all who are seeking access to protection have a full and fair opportunity to prepare and present their cases.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, email@example.com, 202-631-9990