During the summer of 2014, the number of unaccompanied children fleeing to the United States seeking protection increased while the arrival rates of other immigrants at U.S. borders remained low. Some Members of Congress reacted to the increased arrivals by introducing legislation that would strip away critical protections for these vulnerable children that are contained in the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). Today, Congress is again considering such proposals.
These proposals—such as the “Protection of Children Act of 2016” (S. 2561) or amendments tacked onto unrelated bills—would put Central American children at risk. They would be quickly removed without a fair chance to ask for protection—without the due process they deserve. Such legislation also ignores the fact that children are fleeing harm and that many hope to reunite with family in the U.S. In fact, 60% of the children coming have parents here in the U.S. and 25% have other relatives that can care for them.
In 2014, three-year-old Jesus’ family sent him to the U.S. for safety after his family had received threats of harm against him. The family knew these threats were credible, as they had witnessed the torture and beheading of another toddler in their community by gang members. If these proposals become law, children like Jesus would not have a real chance to express their fears and would be returned almost immediately to the dangerous situations from which they fled.
In contrast, we applaud legislation such as the “Fair Day In Court for Kids Act” (S.2540 and H.R. 4646), which would ensure that unaccompanied children and other vulnerable migrants have access to legal representation and increased due process during their immigration proceedings.
As the faces of those now coming to our borders grow younger and more vulnerable, it is vital that we maintain current protections and increase available due process. Stand with unaccompanied children and take action today!
- Call on your Members for Congress to vote against any proposals that would remove protections for unaccompanied children by using the Congressional switchboard (202) 224-3121.
- Encourage your Senators and Representatives to support the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act.
- Take action to prevent harmful legislation from becoming law.
Our faith calls us to welcome vulnerable migrants, especially children, with compassion. We thank you for your continued call to action to protect unaccompanied children like three-year-old Jesus.