Washington, DC — KIND supports the Central America Family Protection and Reunification Act, 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). This bill seeks to immediately reunite families who were cruelly separated under Trump administration policies. It also takes important steps toward addressing widespread sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) that forces many women, children, and LGBTI people to flee their homes in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras to seek safety in the United States.
The Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras have among the highest rates of SGBV in the world, including femicide, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, and human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Girls and young women are frequently subject to sexual violence by gangs, which use rape as a tool to maintain control over the territories in which they operate and to punish those who fail to comply with the gang’s demands. Rates of impunity for sexual and gender-based violence crimes are over 95 percent in the region, and the vast majority of victims left without access to justice or protection.
The Central America Family Protection and Reunification Act would require the State Department to work with embassies in the Northern Triangle countries of Central America to immediately reunite families that were separated by U.S. authorities at the U.S.- Mexico border, and to implement a strategy to address the damage to the health and well-being of children and families caused by separation. It would require the U.S. Secretary of State to report on rates of SGBV and impunity and to work together with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Inter-American Foundation to develop a strategy to address SGBV in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. It would also require the Department of State to report on gang-related violence, including gender-based violence and violence against children, and obstacles to prosecuting these crimes.
“KIND applauds this critical legislation that will address the extreme sexual and gender-based violence, with a particular emphasis on the scourge of gang-based violence against children, which is the reason many flee for the United States,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “Helping to reunite separated families as quickly as possible is also vital at this time, when so many children are being taken from their parents and suffering immeasurably as a result.”
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