Cornyn, Cuellar Introduce HUMANE Act to Address Border Crisis
Washington | Olya Voytovich, DC Press Secretary (202-226-1583); Leslie Martinez, District Press Secretary (956-286-6007), May 2, 2019
Today at a press conference, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and U.S. Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) announced the introduction of the HUMANE Act. The bill is designed to help solve the ongoing humanitarian crisis at our southern border by reforming current laws dealing with unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and migrants taken into custody. The bill will also update existing laws to ensure family unity, while streamlining processing procedures. Finally, the bill will boost the number of CBP officers and modernize ports of entry to increase the capacity for CBP to process migrants seeking asylum while also facilitating legitimate trade and travel.
“As the number of heartbreaking stories at the border continue to grow, so do the number of apprehensions overwhelming understaffed law enforcement,” said Sen. Cornyn. “Border apprehensions typically increase during the late spring and early summer, so it’s critical we take action on this situation now by thoughtfully reforming our laws regarding unaccompanied children and migrants in custody.”
“I believe that every person should have due process and be treated humanely in immigration matters,” said Rep. Cuellar. “I also feel that current law leads to processing inefficiencies and promotes a chaotic climate at the border. As recent stats show, DHS is overtaxed in its ability to handle the high volume of cases it is receiving. This bill allocates more resources to better position DHS to handle this influx and enhance the processing experience for individuals in DHS custody.”
Improving Care of Children and Families at the Border:
· Requires DHS to keep families together during court proceedings and provide additional standards of care for families being held in DHS facilities*
· Improves Due Process for unaccompanied children and family units by prioritizing their claims for relief in immigration courts.
· Provides safeguards to prevent unaccompanied children from being placed in the custody of dangerous individuals.
· Requires DHS to continually update their regulations to prevent and combat sexual abuse and assault in DHS facilities.
· Fixes a loophole in current law to allow unaccompanied children from non-contiguous countries to be voluntarily reunited with their families in their home country.*
· Clarifies that the Flores settlement agreement applies to unaccompanied children apprehended at the border.
Streamlining Processing and Increasing Resources at Ports of Entry:
· Mandates the hiring of additional DHS personnel, upgrades and modernization of our nation’s ports of entry to expedite legitimate trade and travel.
· Improves processing of humanitarian relief claims by requiring certain applications take place at designated ports of entry.*
· Requires DHS to establish four or more Regional Processing Centers in high-traffic areas to process and house family units in a humane environment.*
· Requires the Executive Office for Immigration Review to assign at least two immigration judges to each of the Regional Processing Centers that DHS is required to establish along the southern border.
· Mandates a strategy and implementation plan from the Department of State regarding foreign engagement with Central American nations.
*Recommendation of the bipartisan DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council