Washington, DC – As Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas prepares to testify Thursday before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) urges the department to work toward an innovative and humanitarian approach to the issues at the U.S.-Mexico border and within the U.S. immigration system, including the protection of unaccompanied children, as the Secretary has previously committed to.
“The Biden Administration was right to exempt unaccompanied children from the cruel and unnecessary Title 42 policy that blocked them from seeking safety in the United States for a year. While the months since that decision have been challenging, Secretary Mayorkas has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to upholding the nation’s legal and moral obligation to protect unaccompanied children seeking safety,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “These children now have the opportunity to secure a future free from fear and danger. As the administration continues to work to rebuild the nation’s immigration system to best serve these kids and others who face harm, it must do so in a way that fundamentally reforms the existing structure to prevent future crises.”
Specifically, KIND urges the administration to prioritize:
- humanitarian reception of unaccompanied children, including through the hiring of child welfare professionals in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities
- compliance with the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act that ensures children are screened properly at the U.S.-Mexico border and have a fair chance to make their claim for U.S. protection
- co-location of Department of Health and Human Services professionals in CBP facilities
- provision of legal counsel to unaccompanied children
- expansion of the Central American Minors program to allow children to apply for U.S. protection closer to their country of origin
- expansion of regional protection initiatives to address the root causes of migration.
“KIND is encouraged by several recent actions by the Biden Administration to expand the ability of HHS and DHS to appropriately process, care for, and house unaccompanied children. As we look forward to more progress, KIND stands ready to work with DHS and Congress to support reforms to create a system that prioritizes and safeguards children’s rights and well-being,” concluded Young.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990