Rep. Meadows Introduces the Equal Protection of Unaccompanied Minors Act
Washington, D.C. – Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC) has introduced H.R. 574, the “Equal Protection of Unaccompanied Minors Act”—a bill to resolve loopholes in the U.S.’s immigration border enforcement system, allowing for better resolution to the issue of family separation at the border.
The bill increases multiple enforcement mechanisms for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to better prevent those seeking to take advantage of the asylum system. It targets asylum fraud by adjusting the “credible fear standard” for enforcement officers and barring aliens from entry if they are found to knowingly make a false or frivolous application for asylum. This will cut down on attempts to use the asylum system to illegally enter the U.S. Furthermore, it requires dangerous criminal aliens, subject to final orders of removal, to remain in detention until they are physically removed from the U.S. The bill would also allow for alien gang members, alien gang associates, and aliens who participate in gang-related activities to be detained and removed by the DHS, cutting down on the issue of violent crime.
The bill more easily allows for family units to stay together by clarifying U.S. policies of family detention and the treatment standards of unaccompanied immigrant children. First, it clarifies the Flores Settlement of 1997, by ensuring that accompanied minors of illegal immigrants apprehended at the border are not separated from their parent or legal guardian while in custody of Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The bill will ensure the safe and expeditious return to the unaccompanied child’s home country, unless the child has a legitimate asylum claim. Additionally, the law would direct the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the DHS to retain better information about unaccompanied children at the border to better ensure their safe return.
Rep. Meadows released the following statement on the bill:
“The President’s agenda of cracking down on illegal immigration is critical, and yet many of us, including the President, agree: there is a better way to solve the complications of illegal immigration proceedings than separating children from their parents at the border. U.S. border officials need better tools to control the system, keep out violent criminals, and identify those who may be seeking to illegitimately take advantage of our asylum laws. By cutting down on asylum fraud, we can keep families together without running a greater risk of traffickers or violent criminals using children to take advantage of the rules.
We need to better enforce our immigration laws, but we can do so while keeping parents and children together. I believe my bill will help do that. I look forward to working with my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, to find a compromise where we can solve this issue together.”
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