The “Keep Families Together Act,” a House bill sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and 31 of her colleagues, was developed with the expertise of child welfare experts to “ensure the federal government is acting in the best interest of the children,” according to a press release put out by Feinstein’s office on June 8th.
Feinstein’s bill puts in place a higher standard for separating children from parents at the border. The bill only allows separation in the event that “…it is in the best interests of the child to be re- moved from his or her parent or legal guardian because the child is in danger of abuse or neglect at the hands of the parent or legal guardian, or is a danger to herself or others,” or “the child is a victim of trafficking or is at significant risk of becoming a victim of trafficking,” according to the bill.
“Needless to say, children should not be making this journey that is fraught with peril. But there is now a premium on bringing children because of how we have handled these cases. They are considered chits,” reports National Review Online.
These remarks spurred the criticism of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR).
Dems' Keep Families Together Act is better called the Child Trafficking Encouragement Act. Show up at border with a minor & call him your child, then you get released into the US! Children will be abducted & sold to drug cartels & slave-traders as a free ticket into US.— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) June 19, 2018
There has been an alternative bill proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R.-Tx.), who issued a statement on Monday.
“Repeatedly, I have visited detention facilities tragically housing young children. For far too long, children have been the greatest victims of our broken immigration system, with tens of thousands of children who were detained under the Obama Administration and continuing through today, and with far too many of those children facing horrific physical or sexual assault from criminal human traffickers,” said Cruz in the statement.
“The bill would also require asylum claims to take no more than two weeks to process," reports the Washington Free Beacon. "This matters because many individuals crossing the border claim a "credible fear" of persecution in their home countries, immediately qualifying them for consideration for asylum.”
The bill is supported by American Academy of Pediatrics, Kids In Need of Defense (KIND), Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), Children’s Law Center, Young Center for Immigrant Rights and the Women's Refugee Commission.
Co-sponsors include: Senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).