WASHINGTON, D.C. ― U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich cosponsored the Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections (HELP) for Separated Children Act to protect the safety and wellbeing of minor children who have been left alone after their parents have been arrested or detained by U.S. immigration authorities.
“It is disheartening that we must pass legislation that allows parents to embrace their kids one last time, and that allows them to make calls and arrange for the care of their children, before being separated. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the Trump administration.” Udall said. “This legislation provides basic, fundamentally humane, and utterly necessary protections for children and families to prevent further trauma. I join New Mexicans and Americans in rejecting the Trump administration’s heartless immigration policies, and I’ll keep fighting for immigration reforms that honor our values as a nation.”
“The lengths that the Trump Administration will go to incite fear and terror in immigrant communities is truly heartless,” Heinrich said. “We need to end the inhuman practice of family separation. I’m proud to cosponsor this bill to protect the well-being of children who are forced to separate from their parents.”
The bill seeks to protect children who have been abandoned at home or at school after their parents’ detention, often without information about their parents’ location and without adequate arrangements for their care.
The HELP Separated Children Act’s protections include:
Allowing parents to make calls to arrange for the care of their children and ensuring that children can call and visit their parents while they are detained;
Allowing parents to participate in family court proceedings affecting their children;
Protecting children from being compelled to serve as translators for their parents in immigration enforcement actions; · Ensuring that parents can coordinate their departures with their children, and allowing parents to say goodbye to their children prior to being taken into custody; and
Requiring ICE to consider the best interests of children in detention, release, and transfer decisions affecting their parents. A copy of the bill is available here.
In addition to Udall and Heinrich, the bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Edward Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).