Thursday’s call is set against President Trump’s January 12 visit to the U.S. border, where thousands of children are living in dangerous camps awaiting relief, are preyed upon by traffickers and criminals, and where the current administration kicked off its term by separating children from their parents, including some who may never be reunited. The briefing also comes on the heels of last week’s federal court decision to block a sweeping set of asylum restrictions that would have greatly limited immigrants’ access to protection, including children.
KIND experts will discuss how the incoming Biden Administration should recommit to upholding existing immigration law and ensure that unaccompanied migrant children have access to protection. In the first 100 days, KIND is urging the new administration to:
- Ensure unaccompanied children are not unlawfully expelled and are allowed a fair opportunity to ask for protection in the United States
- Dedicate increased resources for legal representation of unaccompanied children
- Commit to reestablishing an in-country refugee processing program
- Reset foreign policy toward Central America and increase foreign assistance to the region with a priority on the development of programs that target the root causes of child migration, restoring the rule of law and respect for human rights
- Assemble a task force dedicated to reunifying families separated under the Trump Administration.
KIND President Wendy Young laid out the challenges the Biden Administration faces, as well as the promise:
“KIND has fought to protect migrant children through all of this and more during the past four years. We’ve seen up-close the damage the Trump Administration has done to our nation’s immigration system and the urgent need for the Biden Administration to tackle some of the most pressing issues head-on during its first 100 days. [Tuesday], we got a glimpse at the approach they plan to take. President-Elect Harris said in an interview that the incoming administration plans to ensure that children who arrive at the border have legal counsel so that we can make sure they receive due process and are treated fairly. That is encouraging, and we would certainly welcome that step and others like it. There are literally hundreds of fixes that the new administration will need to address to restore justice to our immigration system, and ideally, many more improvements beyond that to ensure that the havoc wrought by the Trump Administration never happens again.”
Regarding the number of children coming to the border, Jennifer Podkul, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, said:
“To try to predict actual numbers of kids who may be presenting themselves at the U.S. Mexico border, we really must look at numbers since the 2014 influx. That number has been relatively consistent—despite who is in the White House or what deterrence policies were in place to dissuade them from coming. This is because the root causes of their migration have unfortunately not changed. Because we can expect the recently consistent high numbers of unaccompanied children needing to present for protection, it is essential the Biden Administration balance lawful reception of these children with necessary COVID protections.”
Lisa Frydman, Vice President for International Programs, on caravans coming north:
“Some are saying that caravans will be coming because of the change in administration, but this is not true. Caravans of migrants have been coming to the United States for a number of years, and in fact, for the past three years, caravans have left Honduras on January 15, just as the one forming now plans to do. The only difference is that the conditions in northern Central America are even worse now than when previous caravans left.”
There will be an opportunity to pose questions during the call. To join this telebriefing, please RSVP to Megan McKenna, firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHEN: Thursday, January 14, 2:30 pm EST
WHO: Wendy Young, President Kids in Need of Defense
Jennifer Podkul, Vice President, Policy and Advocacy, Kids in Need of Defense
Lisa Frydman, Vice President for International Programs, Kids in Need of Defense
For more information about the organization’s recommendations, please see KIND’s Blueprint “Concrete Steps to Protect Unaccompanied Children on the Move.”
For more about refugee processing, please read: Thwarted Potential: The need to revive and expand the Central American Minors (CAM) Program as a key path to protection for at-risk unaccompanied children