A new analysis of the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency (HUMANE) Act by the Center for Immigration Studies finds the legislation to be poorly crafted and highly deceptive. Introduced by Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), the stated purpose is to amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), or Wilberforce Act. The Obama administration maintains that the TVPRA mandates lengthy and cumbersome deportation proceedings for all Central American unaccompanied alien children (UAC), and must be changed to address the surge of new arrivals.
The HUMANE Act indeed provides accelerated processing for UAC from Central America – but the proposed new process is far more lenient than current law provides, and it would also be expanded to cover illegal juvenile crossers from Mexico, which would likely motivate an even larger flow of illegal migrants.
View the full report at: http://www.cis.org/analyzing-humane-act
- The bill eliminates the key distinction in treatment between aliens from contiguous countries (Canada and Mexico), and others – which ostensibly would appear to eliminate the stumbling block claimed by administration officials in removing the Central American juveniles. However, another provision in the bill offers the new form of accelerated hearing to apply for status to juveniles fromMexico, who under current rules can be returned expeditiously.
- The new, accelerated proceedings would provide immigration judges with new authority to grant permanent residence to UACs if doing so would not be “manifestly unjust”—an open-ended phrase that has no prior meaning or context in immigration law and would open the door to approval to virtually all UACs. This is a stunningly lenient standard for awarding green cards.
- Although the bill refers to “expedited” procedures, in fact it eliminates the possibility of using existing INA procedures for expedited removal even for juveniles who have not been subject to severe forms of trafficking under the TVPRA, and instead requires hearings in front of an immigration judge. Additionally, if the alien absconds, the case is frozen and the judge cannot issue a removal order (as is allowed under current law).
- The bill offers a chance for all UACs who arrived after January 1, 2013 to ask a judge to expunge all prior enforcement actions, including an order of removal or notice to appear for proceedings, so that they can apply for a green card under the new, more lenient process. This is essentially an amnesty for any UAC from the current surge who has already been processed.
- The bill expands the definition of UAC beyond current law to allow any alien who crossed unaccompanied as a juvenile to apply under the new, lenient process.
“Much like the massive 2013 Schumer-Rubio amnesty bill, the HUMANE Act appears tough up front, but beware,” said Dan Cadman, a fellow with the Center and the report’s author. “The fine print reveals that this so-called cure for a few bugs in the Wilberforce Act is worse than the original bill. It would not help address this surge, but instead spark a new wave of juvenile illegal crossers.”