January 30, 2019

Castro & Blumenthal Introduce Legislation to Address the Family Separation Crisis

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and a member of the Intelligence, and Education and Labor Committees, and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, introduced legislation to help children and families who were affected by the family separation crisis that resulted from the Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.

The Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration and forced family separation policies resulted in at least 2,700 immigrant children being systematically ripped away from their parents in the summer of last year. A report by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General issued earlier this month found that thousands more migrant children than originally known may have been separated from their families at the border. Federal courts found that the family separation policy violated the constitutional rights of affected parents and children.

“The Trump Administration’s zero-tolerance immigration policy sparked a humanitarian crisis that led to the separation of migrant children from their families. Given the latest report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General that said thousands more were separated than previously know, we must hold this Administration accountable for rectifying this tragedy that will inevitably leave a dark stain on America’s history,” said Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Castro. “While the trauma of this policy will leave a lasting impact on those affected, the Families Belong Together Act seeks to bring a modicum of justice by helping parents and children achieve lawful permanent resident status and authorizing money to help educate them on their legal rights as they enter the immigration process. We must prioritize the respect and dignity of those fleeing to our borders from violence and oppression, and this legislation is a first step towards doing just that.”

“This bicameral bill would provide the victims of the Trump Administration’s barbaric family separation policy with legal status and a path to citizenship to ensure that they receive treatment for the trauma they experienced and the opportunity to rebuild their families in safety,” Blumenthal said. “This bill is a necessary first step towards righting the wrong of family separation, but it is not the last step. I will continue to demand that every Administration official responsible for this cruel policy and its cover-up is held accountable. We must never again forget the simple and enduring truth that families belong together.”

The Families Belong Together Act would take a first step towards redressing the grave harms committed against victims of the family separation policy by:

  • Granting all affected children and their parents or legal guardians currently outside the United States the opportunity to return to live within our borders and the ability to adjust their status to Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status;
  • Providing all affected children and their parents or legal guardians who have not committed serious criminal offenses a path to citizenship, so that they can fully access security and medical treatment to heal from the trauma of the family separation policy, and;
  • Increasing funding for federal programs to educate eligible children and parents on their legal rights and help facilitate their access to counsel.

The legislation is endorsed by National Immigrant Justice Center, Moms Rising, the Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence, Fair Immigration Reform Movement, and Kids in Need of Defense (KIND).

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