HUMANE Act Gets It Exactly Backward


As you’ve probably read by now, American immigration law deals with unaccompanied minors from Mexico differently than those from non-contiguous countries. Mexican children can be sent back immediately by a border patrol agent, while those from non-contiguous countries have to have a hearing before a judge. A new bill in Congress does the exact opposite of what should be done to fix that.

In response to President Obama’s $3.7 billion emergency funding request, two Texas lawmakers Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) are pushing the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act to make the federal government deport Central American children just as quickly as they already do with Mexican children.

In practice, children from contiguous countries (i.e. Mexico and Canada) are currently returned to their home countries almost immediately. Children from nations other than Mexico and Canada are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be screened and housed while waiting for their court hearing…

Despite their claim, their proposal misses the point and fails to address the current system, which is failing Mexican children. Border Patrol agents — not immigration judges — make the initial determination about whether Mexican children can stay in the United States based on whether the child will be afraid of returning to his home country; whether the child is a human trafficking victim or may become a victim in their home country; and whether the child understands the implications of returning to Mexico. If they conclude that the child is not eligible for legal protection, the border patrol agents offer them the chance to voluntarily return home. In practice, border patrol agents are not qualified to adequately screen these kids for these various forms of relief and their “offer” to voluntarily return home often amounts to coercion.

Children don’t always understand the process and are frequently unable to articulate their fear within the 48 hours Border Patrol agents have to do this screening. As Vox highlighted, one teenage girl told a border agent that she was afraid of being forced into prostitution only after her paperwork had been filed. According to a June 2014 UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees report obtained by Vox, the Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agency’s “style of interviewing Mexican unaccompanied alien children seemed to focus on producing quick answers rather than substantive ones.”

Calling a bill that would send those kids back faster makes the name of the legislation — HUMANE — downright Orwellian. Every single one of them should be given food, clothing, shelter and medical treatment and afforded the opportunity to have their situation adjudicated by a judge, not quickly disposed of by a border patrol agent.

Comments

  1. karmacat says

    We really need to dress these kids up as fetuses. Or maybe we can give them all a GOP flag to wave (I did notice that a democrat is also sponsoring this bill.)

  2. matty1 says

    I was under the impression that the difference between refugee and asylum seeker was that asylum seekers are still having an application to be considered refugees by the host government considered. They are seeking asylum, recognized refugees have already been granted asylum.

    I know it’s WND but their use of the term is so different to how I’ve been using it, particularly the bit about people being granted asylum seeker status after a court hearing that I’m now doubting myself. Just what does the term mean?

  3. raven says

    I don’t have any easy solution to this problem of kids fleeing in fear from dysfunctional societies. Honduras is the murder capital of the world these days.

    1. We could just help fix these societies. It can’t be good for too many of the people that live there.

    OTOH, that worked so well in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and Libya. Seems like every time we fix a country, a few thousand or hundred thousand people end up dead.

    I did see and article about how the leaders of those three central American countries want to talk to Obama about an economic development plan. Who knows, maybe the horse will learn to sing this time.

    2. We could just send them on. They are refugees. It’s a big world, 7 billion people, 220 countries. This would help them and defuse the political problem of white racists and fundie xians going bonkers.

    We could send them to countries that agree to take refugees, which is what happens now with Vietnamese, Somalia, Iraqi, Syrian,Romanian, etc..

    That assumes we can find countries that will take them. The world is suffrering from refugee fatigue. Maybe we could throw in some large sums of money as an incentive. Countries that used to take refugees include Canada, Australia, the USA, and parts of Europe.

    Hmmm, Japan has a falling population. And these kids look sort of Japanese.

  4. anubisprime says

    karmacat @ 1

    blockquote>a democrat is also sponsoring this bill.

    Apparently representing Texas, are they all fuckin’ loony tunes down there?

    But even so…a Democrat wants to be an arsehole, and seems to be achieving that ambition without a clue…sad really when you look to a party to show some rational if not humanitarian credentials and all that bobs to the surface is an arsehole!

  5. anubisprime says

    sorry blockquote screw up…(is it not time an edit function was added to this format..it would solve so much grief and embarresment might even encoura

  6. anubisprime says

    sorry blockquote screw up…(is it not time an edit function was added to this format..it would solve so much grief and embarrassment might even encourage a few more lurkers to the party,…jus’ sayin’)

  7. matty1 says

    Japan I’ve been told has one of the strictest immigration policies in the world and has had for a long time.

  8. says

    48 hours? That seems like an awful long time. That’s, like, two whole days of them Mooching off our welfare and stealing our jobs! Surely we can speed up rejecting them. I mean, surely we can speed up, uh, “humanely treating” them.

  9. says

    I suspect these people spend too much time trying to come up with inappropriate acronyms. Remember the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act?

  10. busterggi says

    “Hmmm, Japan has a falling population. And these kids look sort of Japanese.”

    And they don’t speak English so they’ll fit right in as all furrniers sound alike.

  11. Crimson Clupeidae says

    if only the teabaggers could be convinced to adopt. Then they could accompany the children back home later.

    Come to think, leave the children here and send all the right wingers down there (they can even take their guns with them).

  12. Synfandel says

    In practice, children from contiguous countries (i.e. Mexico and Canada) are currently returned to their home countries almost immediately. Children from nations other than Mexico and Canada are handed over to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to be screened and housed while waiting for their court hearing…

    It cracks me up how Canada and Mexico are always treated as if they were identical neighbours. It’s that kind of thinking that has some geographically challenged members of Congress talking about building a fence from the Gulf of Maine to the Strait of Georgia to keep illegal aliens out. If any Canadian child ‘refugee’ ever turned up in the US, it would be because he was lost and would be grateful to have the DHHS help him get back across the border.

  13. says

    “Hmmm, Japan has a falling population. And these kids look sort of Japanese”

    Jesus H. KKKrist in a fuckin’ swivel chair, Raven!

    They don’t look “sort of Japanese”

    They look EXACTLY like what they are, the hellspawn of the ChicoMexIslamists that they are!!

  14. magistramarla says

    karmakat,
    From what I’ve heard about Henry Cuellar, he is not much of a Democrat. (A DINO?)
    Rachael Maddow talked about him a few nights ago, and it seems that he’s been sucking up to the GOP since Bush was president.

  15. dhall says

    Raven:
    “We could just send them on. They are refugees. It’s a big world, 7 billion people, 220 countries.”

    Well, that was cold.

  16. raven says

    We could just send them on. They are refugees. It’s a big world, 7 billion people, 220 countries.”

    Well, that was cold.

    Sure is.

    Those kids would suffer in Canada, Australia, Sweden, the UK, Germany, or any other country.

    Because the only civilized country in the world that provides people with a decent life is…the USA.

    I’m expecting more desperate children flooding across the border from BC, Ontario, or Oslo, any day now.

    PS Speaking of refugees, I’ve long thought about fleeing myself to someplace not overrun with right wing nutcases, racists, and toxic cult xians. It’s not off the table but Canada has Harper, the UK has Cameron, and Australia has Abbott. Sort of running out of places to run to here.

  17. raven says

    These kids aren’t illegal children whatever that means.
    They aren’t illegal immigrants really.

    They are refugees fleeing dysfunctional societies that are failing.

    This is what our pathetic media hasn’t really noticed yet.

    As refugees, they aren’t anything new. There have been refugees all over the world for about forever. We’ve seen the Vietnamese, Bosnians, New Orleanists, Iraqis, Somalis, Afghanis, and so on for about my entire life. Unfortunately, the world is awash with refugees these days.

    As such, they have to be treated as refugees fleeing dangerous conditions and fed into the standard refugee system, whatever that may be. I’m tempted to suggest that the UN, which usually handles this, set up in the USA. That would give the bigots, something to scream about, Agenda 21 One World Government and all that.

    Oh well, hopefully by the time I’m on the run, the UN will have camps set up for…Pagan atheist Americans.

  18. Synfandel says

    @4 Raven wrote, “Countries that used to take refugees include Canada, Australia, the USA, and parts of Europe.”

    Canada still takes refugees—over 5400 in 2012—but the Harper administration has been reducing the numbers accepted and failing to meet targets. They prefer refugees who are certified steam and pipe fitters or heavy equipment operators and who come with references and stock portfolios.

  19. fmitchell says

    Due process is such a chore. We should reserve it for rich white people who have enough money to subvert the process.

    In fact, all law enforcement should work this way. We keep hearing about court systems clogged with cases; let’s empower police officers to make (non-fatal) snap judgements about the guilt or innocence of suspects. We can call them “Judges”; they can ride on tricked-out motorcycles and wear enormous knee-pads. Wouldn’t that be simpler?

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