Immigrant advocacy groups are encouraging Congress to reject the portion of the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviation National Emergency Act that would fail to given unaccompanied minors immigration hearings. According to the Los Angeles Times, an immigration reform law has yet to be approved by Congress, and both parties have expressed the country’s need to address the issue in a humane way.
Those who do not want a change made to the legislation argued that removing the immigration hearings would mean children lose their right to due process. The LA Times said that the children who would be sent back would possibly be returning to dangerous conditions in their home countries.
Former President George W. Bush signed the bill into law in 2008 in order to fight back against human trafficking. The source said that the law requires unaccompanied minors who are taken into custody at the Mexican and Canadian borders to be given a screening within 48 hours and sent home immediately.
The law is different for children who come from countries that don’t border the U.S., which is the case with approximately 57,000 minors who have been apprehended since October 2013 coming from Central American countries such as Honduras and El Salvador.
A bill that was agreed to by both Democrats and Republicans was proposed before Congress left for its fall recess in early August. It would remove the protections given to children who come from countries that don’t border the U.S. As a result, the LA Times reported that Border Patrol agents would be given the authority to investigate a child’s case and determine if he or she should be given an immigration hearing or ordered to return home.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris said that she cannot support the legislation because it is more about speeding up the process of addressing the issue rather than taking a stand for those who have fled their home countries, according to the source.
It was recently reported that President Barack Obama may take executive action on the immigration crisis if Congress fails to do so after returning from August recess.