Lawmakers sponsor bill ensuring migrants' access to kids
Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden announced they will co-sponsor legislation that provides parents with more access to their children if they are arrested or detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act was first introduced by Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith.
HELP is in response to the Trump administration's policies surrounding the separation of children from their parents at border checkpoints.
"Innocent children shouldn't face a sudden and mysterious sense of abandonment when their mothers and fathers are swept up by immigration officials in communities across the United States," Wyden said in a news release dated Friday, June 1. "This bill would restore humane protections for these young people so they can be contacted by their parents and have care provided for them."
The bill would give parents the opportunity to arrange for child care and ensure children have access to their parents while they are detained. The detained parent would also have access to court proceedings involving their children.
The act would also require ICE to consider the best interests of the detained parent's child or children.
"The Trump administration's inhumane immigration policies are hurting children," Merkley said in the news release. "That is beyond unacceptable."
Merkley visited several border control locations along the U.S.-Mexico border Sunday, where he filmed the trip and posted it to his Facebook page. Merkley visited U.S. Customs and Border Protection's McAllen Border Station in McAllen, Texas, where families are being separated as they enter the country.
Merkley also was denied entry when he attempted to visit the Brownsville Unaccompanied Minors Shelter to visit with children who have been separated from their parents.
"This bill would put in place critical protections to ensure that children's contact with their parents is never cut off, and to treat children with a bare minimum standard of fairness and compassion throughout our immigration system," Merkley said.
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