Washington, D.C. – Today, the House Republican Working Group released policy recommendations on how to solve the flow of unaccompanied minors to the southwest border. Rep. Chu (D-CA) released the following statement:
"Our policies should ensure that these children receive due process and have access to the protections under our laws, not add more enforcement to our borders," said Rep. Chu. "These recommendations do the exact opposite. They weaken existing law and risk returning children with valid claims of protection back to countries where their lives are at risk. Instead, America's response must be consistent with our moral and legal obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us."
The recommendations include amending the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection and Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), requiring unaccompanied minors who do not wish to voluntarily return to their home country to be placed under the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services while they await an expedited immigration court hearing that must occur not more than 7 days after they are screened.
"One week is simply not enough time to ensure due process – an expedited immigration hearing will surely be at the expense of the child," continued Rep. Chu. "Amending the TVPRA is not the answer, instead we must pass the necessary emergency funding to enable a comprehensive response to this crisis, and work with our regional partners to address the push factors that are making children take this perilous journey."
Since 2011, the number of unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the Southwest border has drastically increased. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) predicts that an estimated 90,000 unaccompanied children will attempt to enter the country by the end of this year. Many of the children attempting to cross into the U.S. are fleeing extremely violent environments in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras - collectively known as the Northern Triangle of Central America. Drug cartel and gang-related activity are the main cause for most of the violence occurring in the region. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, as many as 58 percent of the minors could qualify for international protection.
The House Republican Working Group's recommendations can be found here.
The CPC's policy recommendations can be found here.