Today, Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) and members of the Congressional Women's Working Group on Immigration Reform wrote to Speaker John Boehner, urging him to pass a supplemental spending bill free of legislative riders. A clean supplemental will enable the federal government to appropriately care for child refugees from Central America without taking away their right to due process. The working group's letter comes soon after House Republicans proposed undermining critical humanitarian and due process protections for these children, potentially endangering women and girls who are victims of sexual violence and trafficking. The full text of the letter is below.
"The humanitarian crisis on our border is a test of our values as a nation," said Rep. Roybal-Allard (CA-40). "Current law provides migrant children with appropriate due process, ensuring that our government does not return young girls back into the waiting arms of their traffickers. Unfortunately, the Republican Leadership is trying to eliminate these protections when they are needed most. Instead of bowing to political expediency, we should reject any effort to strip away due process for innocent children and fully fund President Obama's request for emergency funding to address this heart-wrenching situation."
"Stripping children of their due process rights is not a workable solution to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border," said Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA-19). "We know that doing so would return vulnerable children to face further abuse or worse at the hands of their traffickers and others. Expanding the flawed and cursory process currently used to screen children from Mexico to all refugee children is not only wrong, but will make the problem worse. Victims will simply try to escape the violence again -- but instead of seeking out Border Patrol agents for safety as they do now, they may try to avoid detection -- and we will see more dead children in the desert as a result."
"We have a humanitarian obligation to protect vulnerable children fleeing from extreme violence and escaping the horrific situations they are faced with back home," said Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04). "We must also work together, in a comprehensive manner, to address the causes of this mass migration. I urge Speaker Boehner to work with President Obama to positively and holistically respond to this crisis."
"We have a moral and legal responsibility as a nation to treat unaccompanied children with care and compassion," said Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27). "The answer to this crisis cannot be fast-tracked repatriations that curtail due process and block children from seeking the protection our laws afford. Instead, we must pass the necessary emergency funding to achieve a comprehensive solution to this humanitarian crisis. There is no better time than now to show what American ideals are about and approach this situation with compassion and understanding."
"I have served on the House Homeland Security Committee and the Border Security Subcommittee since its inception and I can say for certain that this is not a "border security' problem," said Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-46). "This is a complex humanitarian crisis that is a result of dire situations in these children's home countries: escalating gang violence, weak government institutions, a lack of social services and economic opportunity. We must pass a clean funding bill immediately to address this crisis without distracting political theatre."