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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
Waiving Requirement Of Clause 6(A) Of Rule Xiii With Respect To Consideration Of Certain Resolutions Reported From The Committee On Rules, And Providing For Consideration Of Motions To Suspend The… August 1, 2014
Zoe Lofgren, D-CA
"Dear Member of Congress, In a matter of months, more than 50,000 unaccompanied children have arrived in the United States. Millions of Americans have been moved by the plight of these children who are currently awaiting processing, with many asking how they can help. Children are vulnerable even in the best of circumstances and warrant special protection beyond that offered to adults. This vulnerability is compounded among children who flee situations of criminal gangs, sexual violence, trauma and extreme poverty, without their parents to accompany them. Evangelicals are guided by Jesus’ admonitions to welcome and protect children (Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:37, Luke 18:15- 17). As our nation responds to this humanitarian crisis, we are thankful for laws that protect children and provide for their needs. While our systems are currently stretched, our laws uphold basic child protection principles. Accordingly, we are concerned about potential weakening of protections afforded by the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) which was enacted in 2008 and reauthorized in 2013. The TVPRA ensures that victims of trafficking are not only identified and screened properly but that traffickers are penalized and brought to justice. It also appropriately assigns responsibility for the care of unaccompanied children to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and ensures that children are placed with their families when possible. By making the legal process clearer and more efficient for children, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops found that since the passage and implementation of TVPRA 23% more children were assisted. The TVPRA is working according to its design. It should not be changed to address the current temporary situation. The law allows for responses to exceptional circumstances. Additionally, we urge you to provide the necessary resources and policy guidance to address the current crisis, and then hold the Administration accountable for fulfilling its responsibilities under the law. Robust funding is needed for the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in HHS which has extensive experience with vulnerable immigrants, including UACs, refugees, and victims of trafficking. To respond to this crisis, ORR is considering reprogramming funding from other refugee programs. Funds must not simply be transferred from one vulnerable population to another. More funding is needed. There should also be increased funding for immigration courts and judges to more quickly screen the children and counsel for children going through legal proceedings so they know their rights and can understand the process. More robust investment in effectively addressing root causes of migration in Central America and Mexico is also imperative. As we pray for these children and also our nation, we are reminded of Matthew 19:13-14 in which Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them.’ Churches and faith-based organizations have long partnered with the federal government in serving immigrant children and families in the United States. Many churches and faith-based organizations are ready and committed to provide the same type of assistance and pastoral care in the case of these unaccompanied children. We offer our prayers and service as you make important decisions about our nation’s response to migrant children. We hope that any response you make will strengthen our country’s tradition of providing safety and refuge to the vulnerable. Sincerely, Leith Anderson, President, National Association of Evangelicals; Stephan Bauman, President and CEO, World Relief; David Beckmann, President, Bread for the World; Noel Castellanos, CEO, Christian Community Development Association; Russell D. Moore, President, Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; William Robinson, Interim President, Council for Christian Colleges and Universities; Samuel Rodriguez, President, National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; Gabriel Salguero, President, National Latino Evangelical Coalition; Richard Stearns, President, World Vision U.S.; Jim Wallis, President and Founder, Sojourners."
Bring Jobs Home Act—Motion To Proceed July 24, 2014
David Vitter, R-LA
"No. 3, those UACs who do not voluntarily depart will be immediately placed in a streamlined removal process and detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, they are transferred instead to Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, where they are basically resettled."
Legislative Session July 22, 2014
David Vitter, R-LA
"Third, those UACs that do not voluntarily depart—which is part of the process dealing with Mexican UACs—will be immediately placed in a streamlined removal process and detained by the Department of Homeland Security. Currently, UACs are transferred to HHS and their Office of Refugee Resettlement, where they, quite frankly, disappear into the United States. They are reunited with parents or sponsors living in the United States, often illegally. What that means as a practical matter is they essentially disappear into our country."
Executive Session June 26, 2014
Richard Durbin, D-IL
"Does the Senator know the origin of the law which requires that an unaccompanied child be turned over within 72 hours by the Department of Homeland Security to the Department of Health and Human Services, specifically the Office of Refugee Resettlement? Does the Senator from Texas know who introduced that bill and who signed it into law?"
Clandestine Intelligence Activities May 19, 2014
Louie Gohmert, R-TX
"On Sunday, Department of Health and Human Services officials will open a shelter for up to 1,000 minors at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, authorities said, and will begin transferring youths there by land and air. The level- four alert is the highest for agencies handling children crossing the border illegally and allows Homeland Security officials to call on emergency resources from other agencies, officials said. In an interview on Friday, Mr. Johnson said the influx of unaccompanied youths had “zoomed to the top of my agenda” after his encounters at the McAllen Border Patrol station with small children, one of whom was 3. The children are coming primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, making the perilous journey north through Mexico to Texas without parents or close adult relatives. Last weekend alone, more than 1,000 unaccompanied youths were being held at overflowing border stations in south Texas, officials said. The flow of child migrants has been building since 2011, when 4,059 unaccompanied youths were apprehended by border agents. Last year, more than 21,000 minors were caught, and Border Patrol officials said they were expecting more than 60,000 this year, but that projection has already been exceeded. By law, unaccompanied children caught crossing illegally from countries other than Mexico are treated differently from other migrants. After being apprehended by the Border Patrol, they must be turned over within 72 hours to a refugee resettlement office that is part of the Health Department. Health officials must try to find relatives or other adults in the United States who can care for them while their immigration cases move through the courts, a search that can take several weeks or more. The Health Department maintains shelters for the youths, most run by private contractors, in the border regions. Health officials had begun, several months ago, to add beds in the shelters, anticipating a seasonal increase. But the plans proved insufficient to handle a drastic increase of youths in recent weeks, a senior administration official said."

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