A new bill to swiftly return illegal immigrant minors to their home countries has been introduced by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI).
On Tuesday, Sessions and Johnson announced the legislation to eliminate loopholes that allow unaccompanied minors from countries that don’t border the U.S. to remain in the U.S.
“The American people want and deserve a lawful immigration system, but instead we have a system that is manipulated at every turn, resulting in a virtual collapse of enforcement,” Sessions, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, said in a Feb. 23rd statement.
“Not surprisingly, in recent months the number of purported unaccompanied alien children crossing our southern border has more than doubled,” he continued. “Our nation’s schools, hospitals, and social services are facing massive, unsustainable strain.”
The pair announced the legislation, titled, “The Protection of Children Act,” the same day a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing revealed that less than four percent of the 127,193 unaccompanied minors detained at the border in the last 2.5 years have been returned to their home countries.
“The Protection of Children Act eliminates a well-intentioned but misguided policy that incentivizes children to embark on the dangerous journey to the United States. If enacted, this bill will address the current humanitarian crisis at our border head-on. I am pleased to support this legislation with Sen. Sessions,” Johnson added.
The legislation matches a bill passed by the House Judiciary Committee. That bill was introduced by Rep. John Carter (R-TX) and would mandate that all unaccompanied minors be treated by the same rules, and be quickly returned home, if they do not have a valid asylum claim or were trafficked for prostitution.
“This crisis is the natural consequence of this Administration’s policies and continued exploitation of our immigration laws,” Sessions said. “The only way to stop the illegality is to ensure those who enter unlawfully, including children, are treated well but returned home quickly. Assurance of being returned sends a powerful message louder than words. The word will spread and the number attempting illegal entry will quickly fall.”
Additionally, the bill would bar taxpayer-funded lawyers for illegal immigrants, require removal-hearings occur quickly, mandate the collection of personal information of the sponsors into whose care the government releases children, grant authority to negotiate repatriation processes with minors’ home countries, and close the “loopholes” that allow minors to have their asylum claims heard more than once or be defined as an “unaccompanied minor” despite living with a parent in the U.S.
“This legislation will send the message that America is going to enforce its laws and its borders by closing loopholes, eliminating fraud, and removing dangerous incentives for illegal immigration,” Sessions added.