We Cannot Let DHS Secretary End Critical Protections for Immigrant Children

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security called on Congress to effectively eliminate the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). This is another outrageous effort by the administration to deport or turn away immigrant children without first ensuring their safety. Eliminating the law will make it nearly impossible for children and families fleeing persecution and violence to find a safe haven.

Targeting immigrant children and eliminating the few legal protections they have is unconscionable. The 1998 Flores Settlement Agreement and the 2008 TVPRA exist because children are different from adults. Immigrant children are uniquely vulnerable and at high risk for trauma, trafficking, and abuse. These laws provide critical protections designed especially for children in deportation proceedings, but they have been attacked as “loopholes” that are exploited by smugglers, parents and even children

Read our report about the Flores Settlement Agreement and the TVPRA and how these laws are not loopholes; they are protections for the most vulnerable children and their families.

This false narrative must be rejected. For 10 years, Flores and the TVPRA have protected the most marginalized immigrant children. Eliminating either one would be nothing short of disastrous. Children would again be placed in prison-like conditions for prolonged periods, separated from their families. Every single child at the border could be turned away unless a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer, who is not a child-welfare expert, interviewed them and decided that they qualified for protection. Children would once again be forced to pursue asylum in an immigration court, where they would face cross examination by a government attorney often without an attorney of their own. They would have no opportunity to receive an independent Child Advocate like those provided by the Young Center. In short, children would be sent back to the very same conditions that forced them to flee their homes in the first place.

We are asking Congress to reject DHS’s proposal and to safeguard these vital protections. Join us in contacting your members of congress and tell them you support the TVPRA. Ask your members to:

·       Reject DHS's call to eliminate the TVPRA

·       Protect the TVPRA to ensure that immigrant children are placed in protective custody, have access to child advocates, can ask for asylum, and are protected from unsafe repatriation

·       Enact laws that require DHS and all federal agencies to consider each immigrant child’s best interests in every decision

Click here to read our report on the TVPRA and the Flores agreement and share it with your networks to raise awareness.

Maddie Witters