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H.R.5950 / S.2937 - HELP Separated Children Act

To protect children affected by immigration enforcement actions.

You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe children of detained parents should be protected by allowing parents to arrange for the care of their children, and be able to participate in family court proceedings during an arrest by U.S. immigration authorities. Parents should be allowed to to say goodbye to their children prior to being taken into custody.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that crossing the border illegally is unlawful and illegal actions have consequences. In order to have better border security, the law must be enforced with zero tolerance, even at the expense of detainee's children.

The HELP Separated Children Act would protect the safety and well-being of minor children who have been left alone and vulnerable after their parents have been arrested or detained by U.S. immigration authorities.

Specifically, the bill would include several protections for children:
- Parents would be allowed to make calls to arrange for the care of their children, ensuring children can call and visit their parents while they are detained;
- parents could participate in family court proceedings affecting their children;
- children would be protected from being forced to translate interrogations;
- parents would be allowed to coordinate their departures with their children, including allowing parents to say goodbye to their children prior to being taken into custody; and
- ICE would be required to consider the best interests of children in detention, release, and transfer decisions affecting their parents.

According to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center, there are more than five million children in the United States living with at least one unauthorized immigrant parent. The vast majority of these children are U.S. citizens. The bill would protect these children by allowing parents to make arrangements for the care of their children. According to Sen. Smith, "this not only results in serious, avoidable trauma to children and families, but also unnecessary expenses for the state."

Another 2011 study by the Applied Research Center states that “ICE and arresting police officers too often refuse to allow parents to make arrangements for their children.” Detainee's children are oftentimes being left unnoticed for 72 hours or more.

“Children shouldn’t be suddenly abandoned at home or at school without information on their parents’ whereabouts, but we’re seeing that happen to kids with moms and dads facing arrest, detention, and removal actions,” said Sen. Smith, sponsor of the bill. “Since I first heard kids were being cruelly ripped from their parents in this way, I committed to protecting children whose families are swept up in immigration enforcement. This legislation makes good on my promise, but more than that, it’s the right thing to do.”

“This bill will protect children from experiencing unnecessary trauma when their parents are targeted for immigration enforcement actions,” said Sen. Blumenthal, a lead cosponsor of the bill. “Imagine being detained and not being permitted to ensure that your children are fed or looked after. Imagine being deported and not being allowed to say goodbye. The protections in this bill are so basic that it is shameful they aren’t already enshrined in law.”

Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) said, “millions of children—most of whom are U.S. citizens—are increasingly vulnerable to losing a parent to deportation. CLASP knows from our recent research the direct harm children experience when their parents are arrested, detained, or deported due to immigration enforcement. The HELP for Separated Children Act ensures basic protections for children during enforcement actions and during a parent’s detention.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has defended the policy.

"We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does for doing the job that the American people expect us to do," said Kirstjen Nielsen, DHS secretary. "Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards."

President Trump blames Democrats and Congress.


Sponsored by: Sen. Smith, Tina [D-MN].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 15 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.


Sponsored by: Rep. Roybal-Allard, Lucille [D-CA-40].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 24 Dem / 1 Ind.

See list of cosponsors.

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