Monday, June 24, 2013

Murphy moves to strengthen immigration bill to protect children (with video)

WASHINGTON Today, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., spoke on the U.S. Senate floor about an amendment he introduced to the immigration bill being debated in the Senate, according to a release.
"Murphy’s amendment would prohibit immigrant children from being detained in adult detention facilities, where they face a higher risk of physical and sexual abuse. Recently, it has been reported that scores of immigrant children have been placed in adult detention facilities over the last five years – some for as long as three months at a time – even though current law prohibits most children from being detained in adult facilities," the release says. 
"For example, there have been cases of immigrant teenagers who are picked up by law enforcement on their own, without any family members, because they appear to be over 18 years old. In these adult detention centers, immigrant children risk being subjected to physical and sexual abuse at much higher rates, as well as threats to mental health from being placed in solitary confinement," the release says.

“While we need to treat all immigrants who come here without documentation fairly, we must give certain protections to immigrant children,” Murphy said, also in the release. “It's unfair to treat them as adults because the fact is, they aren't. If it's appropriate to detain a minor who has been picked up without family members, he or she needs to be detained separately from adults. There's a significantly higher risk of abuse for children in detention facilities and we can't allow them to remain in these facilities vulnerable to truly nightmarish abuse scenarios. My amendment will help ensure that children in DHS custody are protected from abuse and trauma, and I hope my colleagues will work with me to include it in the larger immigration bill.”

The release also said Murphy’s amendment would:

  • ·Prohibit detaining children in adult detention facilities.  This would not bar the Department of Homeland Security from keeping children together with family members in family units and facilities 
  • ·Ensure that existing statutory protections are not affected
  • Require a report and general record keeping on where and how immigrant children are housed, and whether or not they are represented by counsel 
  •  Ensure the best interests of the child should be the main consideration in transferring or releasing them
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