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AILA: House Republican Plan Will Endanger Children Fleeing Violence and Persecution

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

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

Washington, DC - A working group of lawmakers appointed by House Speaker John Boehner to address the national security and humanitarian crisis at the southern border, released a set of recommendations to the House GOP conference Wednesday to deal with the influx of children and families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. The plan mandates deploying National Guard troops and requires the Obama administration to more quickly process and deport young children and families who have entered the country in recent months.

"This plan will harm vulnerable child victims of violence," said Leslie Holman, President of AILA. "This is exactly the wrong way to address this humanitarian situation that affects not just America but the Americas. It will result in children who are eligible for, and desperately need protection in the United States being sent back to the violence they escaped."

"The Boehner plan will compel children to go before an immigration judge within seven days. How can a child ask for asylum so quickly before she has received medical treatment and counseling, let alone the chance to get legal assistance to understand what asylum is? Children are typically not developmentally able to formulate such requests. Further, those who might be developmentally able may not be after having just undergone the trauma of an arduous and dangerous journey. "DHS has had a terrible track record of detaining families, got sued for it, and shut down a Texas facility. A plan that now calls for every family to be detained makes no sense. Even worse, the Boehner plan will send families back without meaningful screenings for asylum. Families are stepping off planes in Honduras, the murder capital of the world, and saying they weren't given a chance to describe how fearful they are of being sent back.

"Congress must take responsibility for its longtime underfunding of immigration courts that has resulted in years-long backlogs of cases. To now require courts to rush decisions would both compromise the accuracy and integrity of judicial decisions and likely hurt those we have a legal and moral duty to protect.

Holman concluded, "We understand from experts and lawyers screening children at facilities that 63 percent will qualify for protection in the United States. But we'll never know if this is the case if we don't provide them with a full, fair and independent proceeding. This is what is required under current law, and it is the best way to avoid sending kids back to their deaths. In this instance, to err is certainly not human."

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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 InfoNet Doc. No. 14072460.

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