Washington, DC—As Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas prepares this week to testify before the House Homeland Security Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) Vice President for Policy and Advocacy Jennifer Podkul issued the following statement:
“As larger numbers of unaccompanied children continue to flee to the United States to seek safety, Secretary Mayorkas should prioritize the orderly and humane processing of children at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Department of Homeland Security can implement changes now that not only will better uphold the well-being of these uniquely vulnerable children while in Customs and Border Protection custody but will also accelerate their safe processing and release to screened caregivers. Ensuring that children are better cared for at the border and can pass through more quickly and safely relieves strain on border officials and promotes more orderly and safer border operations.”
KIND urges the Department of Homeland Security to:
- Use funding appropriated by Congress to expeditiously hire licensed child welfare professionals at the border to assist with the screening and care of unaccompanied children
- Expand the co-location of Department of Health and Human Services personnel at Customs and Border Protection facilities, which has minimized the separation of children from their non-parent caregivers while freeing up Office of Refugee Resettlement shelter capacity
- Ensure that unaccompanied children and other protection seekers can access humanitarian protection in an orderly fashion at ports of entry rather than compelling them to seek ever more hazardous routes between ports in search of safety
- Roll back Title 42 for all seeking protection, including Venezuelans.
Media Contact: Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-631-9990