This week Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), Chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, introduced The Protection of Children Act (S.2561) that would remove loopholes to ensure that unaccompanied minors who cross the border illegally are promptly returned to their families in their home countries. This bill is a companion to Rep. John Carter’s (R-Texas) bill, which was passed by the House last year.
The legislation is in response to the ongoing surge of illegal unaccompanied minors that are continuing to cross the border. Since October 2015 around 40,000 families and unaccompanied children have been caught at the border hitting record highs for these winter months.
This bill would provide seven adjustments to immigration laws that would discourage children to embark on the dangerous journey to get to the U.S. including:
- Providing the same process to every child no matter their country of origin to ensure that all children who are not victims of trafficking or do not meet asylum qualifications are quickly returned to their home countries.
- Closing a loophole that allows the unaccompanied minors to have their asylum claims heard twice instead of once.
- Closing a loophole that allows children living with one parent to receive Special Immigrant Juvenile status, which is supposed to be reserved for children who are abandoned by both parents.
“In recent months the number of purported unaccompanied alien children crossing our southern border has more than doubled. As a result, our nation’s schools, hospitals, and social services are facing massive, unsustainable strain…This legislation will send the message that America is going to enforce its laws and its borders by closing loopholes, eliminating fraud, and removing dangerous incentives for illegal immigration, " wrote Sen. Sessions in press release.
Sen. Ron Johnson wrote, "The Protection of Children Act eliminates a well-intentioned but misguided policy that incentivizes children to embark on the dangerous journey to the United States. If enacted, this bill will address the current humanitarian crisis at our border head-on. I am pleased to support this legislation with Sen. Sessions.”
Read Sen. Sessions full press release here.
Updated: Thu, Mar 10th 2016 @ 12:15pm EST