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AILA: Terrible Legislation Would Shred Protections for Children Seeking Refuge

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, July 18, 2014

CONTACTS:
George Tzamaras
202-507-7649
gtzamaras@aila.org
Belle Woods
202-507-7675
bwoods@aila.org

Washington, DC - In recent days, legislative proposals have been introduced with the purported goal of addressing the humanitarian crisis involving children and families fleeing to the United States. The following is a statement from Leslie Holman, President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) about the provisions in two bills:

"AILA views these bills as attacks on the moral standards of our country and a shameful effort to garner political gain from the misery of children and families.

"Representatives Goodlatte and Chaffetz have introduced a bill that shows zero understanding of how difficult it is for these children or for anyone to seek asylum in this country. The "Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act" would tear away what protections do exist under current law to offer unaccompanied children a fair chance at due process as their situations are reviewed. Our country's already stringent asylum process would be eviscerated to the point that those legitimately seeking refuge from persecution would be shut out.

"The "Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE)" Act introduced by Senator Cornyn and Representative Cuellar also would strip away many of the protections our country has afforded unaccompanied children. While it seems to acknowledge that our current asylum system is difficult enough to navigate, its provisions would essentially gut the protections currently afforded children who may be trafficking victims or are fleeing untenable violence, which means it still would have us turn our backs on the very values and moral standards that our country has stood for and shown the world.

"What will we show the world if one of these or other similar bills is enacted? Hostility to children, closed minds, heartlessness, lack of compassion? We know of countless Americans who are trying their best to help these children. Congress should take a lesson from them."

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The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 14071843.