A Bill to Safeguard Migrant Families
Today, on the heels of Yazmin Juárez’s courageous, heartbreaking testimony in Congress about the death of her almost two year old daughter shortly after being released from ICE custody, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and other Senate Democrats introduced the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act, a proposal to provide standards of care for treatment of children and families in detention.
According to Pili Tobar, Deputy Director of America’s Voice: “As the Trump administration remains hellbent on terrorizing immigrants, separating families, traumatizing and abusing children and families, Leader Schumer, Senator Merkley and other Senate Democrats are proposing solutions, vital limitations on the out-of-control Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and necessary standards of care for immigrant families. The President’s cruelty is indefensible, his policies are nonsensical, inefficient, and simply making the situation worse. People need to know that there are concrete alternatives to Trump’s approach that will deliver sensible, humane, and effective solutions to the issues at our southern border that honor our values, make financial sense and prioritize resources, and will protect children and families and help to end the humanitarian crisis that the Trump administration created.”
According to Senate Democrats, the legislation would:
- End family separations except when authorized by a state court or child welfare agency, or when Customs and Border Protection and an independent child welfare specialist agree that a child is a trafficking victim, not the child of an accompanying adult, or is in danger of abuse or neglect.
- Set minimum health and safety standards for children and families in Border Patrol Stations.
- This section requires access to hygiene products including toothbrushes, diapers, soap and showers, regular nutritious meals, and a prompt medical assessment by trained medical providers.
- End for-profit contractors from operating new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) standard shelters or influx facilities.
- Expand alternatives to detention and the successful Family Case Management Program.
- Remove roadblocks to placing unaccompanied children with sponsors by lowering case manager caseloads, mandating lower staffing ratios, and ending the information sharing agreement between ORR and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- Ensure unaccompanied children have access to legal counsel and continue to be placed in a non-adversarial setting for their initial asylum case review.
- Provide resources to non-profit centers that are helping provide humanitarian assistance.
- Allow Members of Congress, accompanying staff, and credentialed press (without cameras) to visit any facility with 24 hours notice.