Statement: In support of The Protecting Immigrant Families and Improving Immigration Procedures Act of 2019

The First Focus Campaign for Children applauds the introduction of S. 1733, The Protecting Immigrant Families and Improving Immigration Procedures Act of 2019 by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

As our national shame and crisis continues to unfold at the U.S. southern border, Sen. Feinstein’s legislation would help shield children from imminent danger. “Time and time again the Administration’s enforcement-only approach to immigration reform uses children as collateral damage and even bait for enforcement practices,” said Bruce Lesley, president of the bipartisan child advocacy organization First Focus Campaign for Children. “We continue to urge the Administration, as well as Congress, to put the best interest of children first in any policy proposals regarding the forced migration of children and families. This bill is a great first step in protecting children who are both in the custody of our federal government as well as those seeking protection at our borders.”

Sen. Feinstein’s bill meets our request by preventing the needless separation of families at the U.S.-Mexico border, protecting the vital Flores Settlement agreement that prohibits children from being detained for prolonged periods of time, and providing legal counsel for unaccompanied children.

S. 1733 also provides a necessary counterweight to legislation introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC). FFCC strongly opposes the misnamed Secure and Protect Act of 2019, whose only goal seems to be to harm children. This bill would extend detention for children to 100 days, end state licensing requirements for detention facilities, expand requirements for abused children to seek special immigrant juvenile status, and send unaccompanied kids back to their home countries without due process or regard for the dangerous situations from which they have escaped.

As Congress moves forward with immigration reform, all proposals must first protect the children caught in this complex and politically motivated debate.

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