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Matthew Kolken on Deportation And Removal

Call for Speaker Boehner to Pass a Clean Spending Bill to address Border Crisis

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
July 25, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT
Ben Soskin
(202) 225-1766
Benjamin.Soskin@mail.house.gov

Women Leaders in Congress Are Standing Up for Vulnerable Migrant Children
Members call on Speaker Boehner to pass a clean supplemental spending bill to address humanitarian crisis at the border

Washington, DC – Today, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and members of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform wrote to Speaker John Boehner, urging him to pass a supplemental spending bill free of legislative riders. A clean supplemental will enable the federal government to appropriately care for child refugees from Central America without taking away their right to due process. The working group’s letter comes soon after House Republicans proposed undermining critical humanitarian and due process protections for these children, potentially endangering women and girls who are victims of sexual violence and trafficking. The full text of the letter is below.

“The humanitarian crisis on our border is a test of our values as a nation,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard (CA-40). “Current law provides migrant children with appropriate due process, ensuring that our government does not return young girls back into the waiting arms of their traffickers. Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership is trying to eliminate these protections when they are needed most. Instead of bowing to political expediency, we should reject any effort to strip away due process for innocent children and fully fund President Obama’s request for emergency funding to address this heart-wrenching situation.”

“Stripping children of their due process rights is not a workable solution to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border,” said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). “We know that doing so would return vulnerable children to face further abuse or worse at the hands of their traffickers and others. Expanding the flawed and cursory process currently used to screen children from Mexico to all refugee children is not only wrong, but will make the problem worse. Victims will simply try to escape the violence again – but instead of seeking out Border Patrol agents for safety as they do now, they may try to avoid detection – and we will see more dead children in the desert as a result.”

"We have a humanitarian obligation to protect vulnerable children fleeing from extreme violence and escaping the horrific situations they are faced with back home,” said Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04). “We must also work together, in a comprehensive manner, to address the causes of this mass migration. I urge Speaker Boehner to work with President Obama to positively and holistically respond to this crisis."

"We have a moral and legal responsibility as a nation to treat unaccompanied children with care and compassion,” said Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27). “The answer to this crisis cannot be fast-tracked repatriations that curtail due process and block children from seeking the protection our laws afford. Instead, we must pass the necessary emergency funding to achieve a comprehensive solution to this humanitarian crisis. There is no better time than now to show what American ideals are about and approach this situation with compassion and understanding."

“I have served on the House Homeland Security Committee and the Border Security Subcommittee since its inception and I can say for certain that this is not a ‘border security’ problem,” said Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-46). “This is a complex humanitarian crisis that is a result of dire situations in these children’s home countries: escalating gang violence, weak government institutions, a lack of social services and economic opportunity. We must pass a clean funding bill immediately to address this crisis without distracting political theatre.”



July 25, 2014

The Honorable John A. Boehner
Speaker
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Speaker Boehner:

Like most Americans, we are deeply troubled by the humanitarian crisis unfolding on our southwest border. As you know, President Obama is seeking approximately $3.7 billion in additional funding to address the causes and consequences of this heart-wrenching situation. While his request is far from perfect, the consequences of inaction by this Congress would be dire. We therefore write to urge you to bring a clean supplemental spending bill, free of legislative riders, to the floor as soon as possible. We strongly believe it would be inappropriate and contrary to our values to use this critical legislation as a means of undermining the essential protections afforded to vulnerable migrant children under current law.

Driven by extreme violence in Central America, including sexual assault, trafficking, and persecution, tens of thousands of children have fled their homes in hopes of finding safe haven in the United States. Up to 40 percent are girls, many under the age of 12. These are young people like Jenny, age 15 from El Salvador. Jenny described to the Women’s Refugee Commission opening her front door and discovering pieces of a body thrown in a plastic bag. This horrific sight was a warning about what would happen to her if she did not become the ‘girlfriend’ of a gang member. And Josephina, a 16-year-old also from El Salvador, who recounted to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) that the head of a local gang told her that he would kidnap her or kill one of her family members if she refused to become his “girlfriend.” While Jenny and Josephina managed to escape, many others have not been so lucky. In Honduras, tragically, 80 minors were murdered in April and 102 were slain in May.

Consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants, Americans have always treated people fleeing persecution with dignity and compassion. This time should be no different. Unfortunately, the recent surge of unaccompanied children has strained the ability of our government to meet their most basic needs. We understand that unless Congress acts, the Office of Refugee Resettlement may exhaust its current funding before the end of the current fiscal year.

This is a complex problem that requires a comprehensive solution. We must work closely with our partners in the region to restore public order and promote human security in Central America. Investments in the security and economic development of these countries, including support for repatriation and reintegration and youth gang prevention efforts, are critical to stemming the flow of migrants. A true American commitment is essential if we are to address the root causes of this crisis.

However, these efforts will take time. In the near term, we must respond sensibly and humanely to the heart-wrenching situation on our border. According to UNHCR, more than 50 percent of children 12 to 17 years old arriving from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala may have claims to international protection. It would be contrary to our values as a nation to return them to communities where their lives would be placed in grave danger. It is therefore critical that we preserve due process and humanitarian protections for these vulnerable young people. This includes ensuring that they are provided adequate representation to navigate our complex legal system.

While some changes to administrative protocols may be necessary and additional resources are certainly required to adjudicate cases in a fair and efficient manner, we believe the Administration can respond appropriately to this situation without undermining fundamental humanitarian protections for children. Specifically, we strongly oppose any proposal that would erode the protections contained in the 2008 trafficking law or unfairly expedite the screening of children who may be victims of horrible crimes and violence.

Already, under current law, children from contiguous countries can be returned following only a cursory trafficking and persecution screening performed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and agents. Although UNHCR recently found that 64% of unaccompanied Mexican children interviewed raised international protection concerns and the State Department regularly identifies Mexico as a large source country for child sex and labor trafficking, more than 95% of Mexican children were returned in Fiscal Year 2013 following this screening.

According to a previously unreleased UNHCR report delivered to CBP just last month, the screenings are implemented in an inconsistent and ineffective manner. Children are questioned quickly and in public by agents and officers who have received no training in child-sensitive interview techniques. CBP personnel have a poor understanding of the legal definitions for persecution and trafficking, which raises the possibility that children are returned notwithstanding the need of further evaluation. In some instances, children are not advised of their rights and are asked to sign forms that were filled out in advance of the interview. We must not allow short-term political considerations to come before the long-term interests of innocent children.

Thank you for your attention to this request. As members of the Congressional Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform, we look forward to working with you to swiftly pass a supplemental appropriations bill that will address the humanitarian crisis on our border in a way that enhances our security and upholds our American values.

Sincerely,

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren
Congresswoman Judy Chu
Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz
Congresswoman Gwen Moore
Congresswoman Linda T. Sanchez
Congresswoman Anna G. Eshoo
Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano
Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez
Congresswoman Betty McCollum
Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards
Congresswoman Doris Matsui

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Comments

  1. Jack2's Avatar
    we will see more dead children in the desert as a result.
    What about children raped and dying on their way to the U.S.? That will keep happening unless the current policy is adjusted.
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