WASHINGTON — Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, applauded Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, for introducing legislation addressing loopholes in immigration policy.
“I appreciate Senator Graham’s leadership and willingness to work together to address the growing crisis at our southern border,” said Collins. “Loopholes in our immigration laws have created perverse incentives for migrants to enter the United States illegally and endanger children in the process. That’s why, this January, I introduced the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act to protect Americans and migrants by closing these loopholes. With legislation to address these broken policies now in both chambers, Democrats in Congress have no excuse to continue ignoring this crisis.”
Background on H.R. 586, the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act:
Keeping families together:
- This bill fixes the Flores settlement to ensure that children who are apprehended at the border with their parent(s) are kept in custody together with their parent or legal guardian. The bill requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary to keep children and parents together while an illegal entry case and any immigration court proceedings are pending.
- The bill also prohibits DHS from releasing a child into the custody of any person other than a parent or legal guardian.
Protecting children who arrive without parents:
- The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 established inconsistent rules surrounding unaccompanied alien children who arrive at the border. Currently, children from countries that border the U.S., like Mexico, can be safely and immediately returned home if they consent to being returned, are not human trafficking victims and are not found to have a credible fear of persecution in their home country.
- Children from countries that do not border the U.S., however, must be placed in very lengthy removal proceedings in immigration court, during which they are usually released into the U.S., often to the very adults who attempted to have them smuggled into the country. The status quo often incentivizes adults to enlist coyotes to smuggle children across the border. The bill removes that incentive and requires that unaccompanied alien children be treated equally regardless of their home nations.
- The bill increases protections for victims of severe trafficking by ensuring that they receive a hearing with an immigration judge within 14 days of their arrival.
- The bill increases transparency and the safety of minors by requiring the Department of Health and Human Services to provide DHS with biographical information about the family members or sponsors to whom each minor is released. This requirement does not currently exist statutorily and is necessary to guard minors from being released to criminals or abusers.
Increasing integrity in the asylum system:
- Currently, less than 20% of people who are granted credible fear are ultimately granted asylum, which is designed to protect men, women and children who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home nations. A dramatic increase in frivolous claims is making vulnerable people who actually qualify for asylum wait longer for that protection. This bill raises the credible fear standard so that fewer baseless asylum claims consume the taxpayer and other resources set aside to aid people at risk of persecution.
- The bill promotes transparency and fairness in the asylum system by requiring DHS to establish quality assurance procedures for credible fear interviews. It also requires DHS officials both to ask questions during the credible fear interview and to record the answers to those questions, in a uniform fashion.
- To reduce frivolous and fraudulent claims, the bill increases penalties for making false statements in asylum proceedings.
The bill text is available here.
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