U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Introduction of Legislation to Stop the Cruel and Neglectful Treatment of Children at Border
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin helped introduce the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act to put an end to the Trump administration’s cruel and neglectful treatment of children at the U.S.-Mexico border and reform how children fleeing persecution are treated between the moment at which they arrive at our borders to claim asylum and the ultimate resolution of their asylum case.
“The inhumane treatment of migrant children by the Trump administration is a disgrace,” said Senator Baldwin. “I support the introduction of the Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act because it’s clear we must act to do more to promote the health and safety of migrant children seeking refuge in our country.”
The legislation is led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and supported by more than three dozen Senators.
The Stop Cruelty to Migrant Children Act would create clear, non-negotiable standards for the treatment of children in America’s care, including:
- Ending family separations except when authorized by a state court or child welfare agency, or when Customs and Border Protection and an independent child welfare specialist agree that a child is a trafficking victim, is not the child of an accompanying adult, or is in danger of abuse or neglect;
- Setting minimum health and safety standards for children and families in Border Patrol Stations.
- The bill requires access to hygiene products including toothbrushes, diapers, soap and showers, regular nutritious meals, and a prompt medical assessment by trained medical providers.
- Requiring children receive three meals a day that meet USDA nutrition standards.
- Ending for-profit contractors from operating new Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) standard shelters or influx facilities.
- The bill ensures that temporary influx facilities are state-licensed, meet Flores standards, and are not used to house children indefinitely.
- Expanding alternatives to detention and the successful Family Case Management Program.
- Removing roadblocks to placing unaccompanied children with sponsors by lowering case manager caseloads, mandating lower staffing ratios, and ending the information sharing agreement between ORR and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- These provisions would ensure that children are moved out of detention centers and into community-based settings—usually, sponsored by family members—as soon as possible.
- Ensuring unaccompanied children have access to legal counsel and continue to be placed in a non-adversarial setting for their initial asylum case review.
Additionally, the legislation would provide resources to non-profit centers that are helping to provide humanitarian assistance, and improve public oversight of the conditions children are being held in by allowing members of Congress and their staff, along with credentialed press (without cameras), to visit any facility with 24 hours-notice.
The bill is also co-sponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Angus King (I-ME) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
Senator Baldwin is also a cosponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, legislation to keep immigrant families together by preventing the Department of Homeland Security from taking children from their parents at the border. In addition, last month, Senator Baldwin called on leaders of the Senate Health Committee—on which she serves—to hold a hearing to examine the negative health effects President Trump’s cruel family separation policy has had on children. Senator Baldwin has also called on the Department of Health and Human Services to thoroughly examine the living conditions, the staff shortages and the inadequate standards of care for migrant children in detention centers.
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