Immigration Reform Update: Texas Lawmakers Introduce Bipartisan Bill for Undocumented Minors Crossing Southern US Border
Two Texas lawmakers have introduced a bipartisan legislation aimed to ease the humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, introduced the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act. According to Cornyn, the proposed legislation is a solution to the current border crisis, which has seen an influx of undocumented immigrant children cross the southern border without their families.
The Obama administration revealed approximately 90,000 children are projected to cross from the Mexican border into the U.S. In addition, the bill would improve the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which treated unaccompanied children equally and ensured Due Process in a "timely, fair manner."
"The border region in Texas has been overwhelmed over the past few months by a deluge of undocumented immigrants from Central America," Rep. Cuellar said. "Today's legislation strengthens current law protecting unaccompanied children and responds to the crisis while supporting the men and women of Border Patrol."
The proposed the HUMANE Act will build on the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2008, which also treats all unaccompanied migrant children equally under U.S. law regardless if the person is from Mexico, Central America or another country.
The HUMANE Act would allow the undocumented minor to make their claim to stay in the U.S. to an immigration judge within seven days of the child's Health and Human Services screening, a process required by the TVPRA. The bill also authorizes an increase of approximately 40 new immigration judges.
The immigration judges will be required to make a decision, on whether or not the unaccompanied immigrant minor can stay in the U.S., within 72 hours of making their claim. The children who are allowed to stay in the U.S. will remain in the custody of a sponsor while continuing the next legal steps. If an immigration judge denies the child's claim, the minor will be returned to their home country.
The HUMANE Act requires Health and Human Services to also provide the undocumented children protective shelter prior to meeting the immigration judge. The same department will be tasked to conduct FBI fingerprint background checks to anyone seeking custody of the unaccompanied child. The FBI background checks would help the unaccompanied minor not to be released to people previously convicted of sex offenses and human trafficking.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said he was not in the position to announce whether the Obama administration supports the proposed legislation.
"I don't know of any specific conversations between Senator Cornyn and the White House or Congressman Cuellar and the White House. But our views on this topic are pretty well known; what we have communicated publicly is in line with what we've communicated privately on this. But we'll certainly review their legislation when they introduce it, including as early as tomorrow," Earnest said during the daily press briefing on Monday.
For the latest updates, follow Latin Post's Michael Oleaga on Twitter: @EditorMikeO or contact via email: email@example.com
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