Carter Introduces Protection of Children Act
(Washington, DC)- Representative John Carter (TX-31) introduced the Protection of Children Act of 2021 in the House yesterday. The Protection of Children Act closes a loophole in current law regarding Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC).
Under the current 2008 Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act, there are two sets of rules regarding children from contiguous and non-contiguous countries, trapping some children in governmental red tape that slows down their adjudication and reunification with family. Representative Carter’s legislation would ensure all children are treated equally, are processed expeditiously, safely returned to their residence in their home countries or to biological family sponsors only.
“The crisis at our southern border is a complex issue that is getting progressively worse on a daily basis,” Representative Carter said. “With a sixty-one percent increase in the number of Unaccompanied Alien Children crossing the border since President Biden was sworn in, swift action is needed to quickly adjudicate UAC and return them home to their country or unify them with biological family sponsors. We know that human traffickers, cartels, and coyotes exploit children in an attempt to line their pockets, only to abandon them at the border alone and scared. These children are then subject to a slow-moving, bureaucratic system, all while being separated from their families, friends, and home countries. The Protection of Children Act of 2021 acts as a voice for these children by closing loopholes to end the exploitation of children. In returning Unaccompanied Alien Children to their last residence or biological family quickly and safely, we prevent these children from experiencing the further trauma of detention, being released to potential strangers and a drawn-out adjudication process that allows them to get lost in the United States’ system.”
The Protection of Children Act of 2021:
- Ensures that children who are victims of severe forms of trafficking are afforded a hearing before an Immigration Judge within 14 days to avoid subjecting them to extended immigration limbo.
- Extends the ability of DHS to hold an unaccompanied alien child up to 30 days in secure custody to ensure their appearance before an Immigration Judge and/or any Asylum hearings.
- Provides for greater transparency by requiring Health and Human Services to provide biographical information regarding the sponsors or family members to whom the children are released. Currently, there is no requirement to share sponsor or family information with Immigration officials. Without this information, there is a great danger these children will be lost in the system and fall victim to criminals.
- Mandates that the Department of Homeland Security follow up with whom the child is placed to verify the individuals’ immigration status and issue notices to appear in court should the situation require an Immigration Judge.