Washington, D.C. — Tomorrow, the Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to mark up S. 1494, the so-called Secure and Protect Act, which would eviscerate the United States’ current asylum system and only make the humanitarian crisis at the border worse. S. 1494 would strip away the minimum safety standards required in family detention centers and enable the prolonged detention of many children and families, while doing nothing to address the root causes pushing children and families to flee their homes.
Because of the grave harms that S. 1494 would cause to both children and adults fleeing persecution, 154 organizations have signed a letter in strong opposition to the bill that urges the Senate Judiciary Committee to vote no and instead seek humane reforms that actually tackle the issues at hand.
The letter urges lawmakers, “Rather than consider legislation that punishes, detains, and categorically denies protection to vulnerable children and families, the Committee should consider common sense legislation that would address the root causes of the humanitarian crisis and provide fair and efficient asylum processing. The harmful proposals in the Secure and Protect Act of 2019 will not resolve the current situation and will leave children in clear danger.”
The 154 signatories of the letter represent national, state, and local immigration, civil and human rights, LGBTQ, labor, and other organizations that oppose S. 1494 on humanitarian, public safety, and legal grounds. As one of the signatories of the letter, Kerri Talbot, director of Federal Advocacy for the Immigration Hub, stated:
The Trump-Graham bill would create more chaos and cruelty in our asylum system. The bill allows the government to jail children and families for longer periods of time in poor conditions. This bill does nothing to create a more humane immigration system. We should instead protect children and families by promoting sensible, safe solutions that embrace our nation’s asylum laws.
Jenn Piatt, senior director of Refugee Resettlement and Asylum Policy and Advocacy at the International Rescue Committee, added:
This bill is outright harmful for children. It would condemn children and families to prolonged detention in substandard conditions, eviscerating crucial protections for children that were put into place by Congress in response to decades of mistreatment in the hands of government agencies. Instead of punishing children and families, we encourage the committee to address the root causes of the humanitarian crisis that are forcing people to flee their homes in the first instance.
Finally, Philip E. Wolgin, managing director of Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, stated:
Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) cruel bill is not a real solution to the humanitarian crisis at our border. It does nothing to address the reasons why children and families are seeking refuge here, but it does manage to be incredibly punitive toward people fleeing for their lives. The bill guts the Flores settlement, allowing children and families to be detained indefinitely without any commonsense protections. The bill also ignores and degrades the rule of law by slashing due process in asylum cases. Far more people fleeing harm and persecution would be barred from asylum under this bill, and potentially returned to harm or even death.
For more information on this topic or to speak to an expert, contact Julia Cusick at gro.ssergorpnacirema@kcisucj or 202.495.3682.