Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019—S. 661/ H.R. 3729
We ask you to Support and Co-Sponsor Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019—S. 661/H.R. 3729
S. 661 was introduced in March by Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and currently has 14 co-sponsors. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for further action. The companion bill, H.R. 3729 was introduced in July by Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).
The legislation would expand protections to vulnerable migrant children while they are in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The bill would:
- Require Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to consult with experts in child welfare, development, and health;
- Develop guidelines for the treatment of children in its custody;
- Require licensed child welfare professionals to be available at certain ports of entry or Border Patrol stations. Such experts will be able to identify victims of trafficking and ensure they receive adequate care while in CBP custody.
- Require all children in CBP custody to be provided with basic necessities, including a safe, sanitary, and climate-appropriate living environment, adequate nutrition, potable water, educational materials, and recreational activities.
- Create provisions to prevent family separation and to assist the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services in reuniting separated families.
- Establish a program that ensures the safe repatriation and reintegration of children who return to their country of nationality or last habitual residence, to help ensure these children are not placed back into the hands of traffickers.
Many children in CBP custody have endured long and traumatic journeys to the United States, and we must ensure that CBP’s care does not inflict further trauma on these children.
Dangerous overcrowding, as well as the unsanitary conditions at immigrant detention centers run by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency have been documented by the agency’s Inspector General.
We condemn the deplorable conditions and inhumane treatment of immigrant children by our own government. It is not only a violation of human dignity and rights, but also contrary to religious teachings and the sacred call to care for all people, especially those most at risk. The deaths of children because of government neglect in detention demands our attention and our faith compels us to speak out in defense of children who continue to experience terrible, harmful conditions while in the custody of the U.S. government.
Jennifer Reyes Lay, Executive Director, U.S. Catholic Sisters against Human Trafficking, Jennifer@sistersagainsttrafficking.org, 267-332-7768.