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Rubio, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Keep Families Together and Ensure Integrity of Immigration Laws
Washington, DC – Today, a group of senators led by Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, legislation that would ensure the integrity of our nation’s immigration laws by requiring that children and their parents remain together during their legal proceedings.
Original co-sponsors include Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Steve Daines (R-MT), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), John Thune (R-SD), Bob Corker (R-TN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Hoeven (R-ND), John Boozman (R-AR), Rob Portman (R-OH), David Perdue (R-GA), Tim Scott (R-SC), Todd Young (R-IN), Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and John Kennedy (R-LA).
The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act:
- Allows minors under the age 18 to remain with their families pending the outcome of their immigration proceedings.
- Ensures the humane and fair treatment of migrant children and families by setting mandatory standards of care for family residential centers. Families will be ensured access to suitable living accommodations, food and water, medical assistance, and any other service necessary for their care.
- Keeps children safe by requiring children to be removed from an individual who presents a clear and present danger to the health and safety of the child, including: situations in which DHS cannot verify an individual is the parent of the child; a parent with a violent history of committing aggravated felonies; a child who is a victim of sexual or domestic abuse; a child who is a victim of trafficking.
- Authorizes 225 new immigration judges and requires the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General to prioritize resolving the cases of children and families in family residential centers.
- Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of family residential beds.
“It is cruel to separate families. But it is also cruel and irresponsible to return to a policy that encourages parents to bring their children on a dangerous journey,” said Senator Rubio. “This bill will allow us to change the law so that families will remain together while awaiting prioritized proceedings. We should pass it immediately and reunite families.”
“Migrant children should not be separated from their families, and both sides of the aisle can agree that we must quickly and permanently address this problem. Our legislation provides the solution by clarifying federal law to ensure that families will remain together and receive good care as they go through the legal process,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the coming days and codifying this fair and commonsense solution into law.”
“I very much support this solution to a difficult problem,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “Simply put, my goal is to make sure families are not separated, but prevent the rampant abuse of ‘catch and release’ where people are being released who never show up for their hearings. This bill prevents breakup for families, but requires adults to show up. This is the winning combination.”
“This bill would protect children and ensure that families are not separated while their cases are being adjudicated in court, and would end the policy of catch and release of families at the border,” said Senator Ron Johnson. “We must stop incentivizing people to come to this country illegally. I hope that my Democrat colleagues in the Senate will work with us to advance this bill into law.”
“This legislation would keep families together while their immigration status is determined instead of simply releasing illegal immigrants into our country,” said Senator Tom Cotton. “This is a very difficult situation, but our bill provides a simple solution, one that will both stop the separation of families and enforce our laws.”
“Treating these families with compassion by allowing them to remain together and enforcing the laws on our books don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” said Senator John Cornyn. “This legislation allows children to stay with their parents while they await their court proceedings in a separate, safe facility. The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act is a solution everyone can get behind, and I urge Democrats to join our efforts so we can end this crisis quickly.”
“The crisis occurring on the border is one we’ve witnessed for far too long,” said Senator Ted Cruz. “Children have been the greatest victims of our broken immigration system. This must stop. Congress can come together and ensure that children are kept with their parents while they await a hearing. I hope that my Democratic colleagues will join us to end this crisis, enforce the rule of law, and keep families together.”
“Nobody wants to see children separated from their families, period. That’s why I joined several of my colleagues in urging Attorney General Jeff Sessions to stop the practice of dividing families who have illegally crossed the border until Congress can pass legislation to keep families together,” said Senator Dean Heller. “The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act is that legislation, and I was proud to help introduce it.”