WASHINGTON — Today, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), and Adriano Espaillat (D-NY) introduced the Working for Immigrant Safety and Empowerment (WISE) Act, which would provide critical protections for immigrants who are survivors of trafficking and gender-based violence and for children have been abused, abandoned, or neglected. Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), which provides legal support and representation to unaccompanied children, welcomes the introduction of the bill and urges Congress to pass it.
“Thousands of child survivors of abuse and other grave harms in their home countries are living in a painful, precarious limbo as they wait years to receive the protection they deserve,” said KIND President Wendy Young. “Children need permanence in their life for healthy development. This bill will allow many immigrant children to gain stability more quickly, which will dramatically impact their lives and well-being, particularly children who have already suffered violence and a lack of protection.”
The WISE Act lifts the arbitrary annual limits on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visas, allowing children who have survived parental abuse, abandonment, or neglect to obtain security and stability in the United States. Currently, many children who are granted SIJS must wait years in uncertain status before they are even eligible to seek lasting protection. Additionally, the bill increases protections for immigrant child and adult survivors of domestic violence and abuse by strengthening safeguards against their unwarranted detention and deportation and expands confidentiality and privacy protections in the visa application process.
Megan McKenna, email@example.com, 202-631-9990
Meredith MacKenzie de Silva, firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 412-4270