Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) released the following statement after House Republicans released their Supplemental Appropriations bill for unaccompanied minors:
“The House Republican’s proposed response to the humanitarian situation is an unacceptable path forward. Their legislation prohibits unaccompanied minors from being placed with sponsors, is woefully underfunded, and strips the 2008 law that protects minors fleeing violence abroad.
“Currently over 30,000 unaccompanied minors have been placed with a parent in the U.S. or with a sponsor, while they wait for adjudication of their case. This is the right approach. Not only does it alleviate the amount of resources that HHS needs, but it is also in the best interest of the children. Yet, this legislation would prohibit unaccompanied minors from being placed with sponsors.
“The Republican proposal’s funding is unacceptably low and focuses on the wrong priorities. For example, the bill provides more funding to send the National Guard to the border than for immigration judges and resources that help speed up immigration proceedings for unaccompanied minors. The arrival of these children is not a failure in border enforcement, but rather the result of unimaginable violence in their home countries.
“The legislation also weakens critical protections in the 2008 law and puts children in a vulnerable position without the necessary legal guidance to assist them through a complex, intimidating legal process. We are a world leader in refugee resettlement and have the necessary institutions and legal framework to provide due process for these children. This situation is evidence of why we need this law, not why we should strip it.
“We need to pass a supplemental appropriations bill that truly protects children and their rights to due process, and I will continue to urge for the advancement of legislation that does so.”