Nonpartisan Committee Report on Securing Our Border, Safety and Welfare of Migrant Children

Mexico–United States barrier at the border of Tijuana, Mexico and San Diego, USA. The crosses represent migrants who died in the crossing attempt. Some identified, some not. Surveillance tower in the background.The Homeland Security Advisory Council’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Families and Children Custody Panel has released the “Final Emergency Interim Report” addressing the current immigration crisis. In creating this report, the Panel reviewed CBP operations and studied short-term care arrangements for those in custody, especially children. Based on these observation, the Panel identified best practices on intake of families and children and proposed a set of recommendations to implement these changes.

According to the report, the recent surge in family unit (FMU) migration from Central America highlighted the shortfalls of the U.S. immigration system. As the result, the border agencies are unable to effectively manage other border security missions, including apprehension of criminal aliens, human trafficking schemes, or monitoring for smuggling. Furthermore, the increase in FMUs overwhelmed holding facilities at U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) stations, thus further endangering the welfare of those waiting for the adjudication of asylum claims.

Specifically, the report addresses the urgent concern for safety of immigrant children, often of tender age, being 12 and under. The journey to the U.S. border is dangerous for both parents and their children, where some families endure extreme passages in remote desert areas. As a result, many arriving children are at a greater risk of experiencing both medical problems and psychological trauma. Presently, the CBP personnel lacks expertise and equipment to deal with these pressing issues. Furthermore, some children fall victims of human trafficking, where they are forced to accompany unrelated adults “fraudulently claiming parentage to a child to gain entry to the U.S.”

In addition to some of the already implemented emergency measures, the report proposes the following recommendations:

  1. Enact and amend relevant legislation, including the Section 208 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (TVPRA);
  2. Implement emergency regulatory changes;
  3. Establish 3-4 Temporary Regional Processing Centers (RPC’s) for all FMUs;
  4. Increase adjudication processing times of asylum claims of FMUs;
  5. Facilitate greater cooperation with Mexico via the proposed North American Family Protection Initiative (NAFPI);
  6. Supplement processing centers with necessary medical and transport professionals; and
  7. Designate a “high level, knowledgeable, whole of Department of Homeland Security operational Commander” to coordinate the above efforts.

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