Durbin, Duckworth Introduce Legislation To Stop Cruel Treatment Of Children At The Border
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today joined Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and 31 Democratic Senators to introduce the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act. This new legislation would put an end to the Trump Administration’s cruel treatment of children at the U.S.-Mexico border and reform how children fleeing persecution are treated between the moment at which they arrive at our borders to claim asylum and the ultimate resolution of their asylum case.
“On President Trump’s watch, we have an unprecedented humanitarian crisis at our southern border, with overcrowded and inhumane conditions at detention centers at the border,” said Durbin. “Immigration may be a complex issue, but how we treat children and families should not be an issue where we are divided. TheStop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act would ensure that migrant children and families are treated humanely when they are in our government’s custody.”
“The conditions at our southern border are heartbreaking and inhumane. We should not be a nation that tears children away from their families and deprives them of the most basic needs,” Duckworth said. “That's why I'm proud to help introduce the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act, because it's time to take action to protect migrant children and families from this administration's systematic, needless cruelty.”
The Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act would create clear, non-negotiable standards for the treatment of children in America’s care, including:
- Ending family separations except when authorized by a state court or child welfare agency, or when Customs and Border Protection and an independent child welfare specialist agree that a child is a trafficking victim, is not the child of an accompanying adult, or is in danger of abuse or neglect;
- Setting minimum health and safety standards for children and families in Border Patrol Stations.
- The bill requires access to hygiene products including toothbrushes, diapers, soap and showers, regular nutritious meals, and a prompt medical assessment by trained medical providers.
- Requiring children receive three meals a day that meet USDA nutrition standards.
- Ending for-profit contractors from operating new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) standard shelters or influx facilities.
- The bill ensures that temporary influx facilities are state-licensed, meet Flores standards, and are not used to house children indefinitely.
- Expanding alternatives to detention and the successful Family Case Management Program.
- Removing roadblocks to placing unaccompanied children with sponsors by lowering case manager caseloads, mandating lower staffing ratios, and ending the information sharing agreement between ORR and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- These provisions would ensure that children are moved out of detention centers and into community-based settings—usually, sponsored by family members—as soon as possible.
- Ensuring unaccompanied children have access to legal counsel and continue to be placed in a non-adversarial setting for their initial asylum case review.
Additionally, the legislation would provide resources to non-profit centers that are helping to provide humanitarian assistance, and improve public oversight of the conditions children are being held in by allowing members of Congress and their staff, along with credentialed press (without cameras), to visit any facility with 24 hours’ notice.
In addition to Durbin, Duckworth, Merkley, and Schumer, the legislation is supported by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).
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