In the wake of growing outrage, House Republicans have amended their compromise immigration bill to prevent the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from separating migrant children from their families at the U.S.-Mexico border, The Hill reports.
The newly amended bill requires families to stay together as parents are processed for illegally crossing the border into the United States. According to a source cited by The Hill, the bill is still in the process of being drafted.
“This bill requires DHS to house families together while parents are going through criminal proceedings for the misdemeanor of first-time illegal border crossing,” the source said.
“This is a change from current practice which requires [Department of Justice] DOJ criminal custody during criminal proceedings, and thus leads to family separation,” the source added.
From The Hill:
It’s unclear whether the new bill will be approved by the House, however, and it seems unlikely to get through the Senate where Republicans would need help from Democrats.
Democrats are opposed to the underlying legislation, which would also make changes to legal programs to curb immigration. The bill also includes provisions on border security, money for a wall on the border and language that would allow “Dreamers” who came to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country.
A vote on the bill is expected to be held later this week. Also being voted on is a measure sponsored by Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Critics say both the bills don’t go far enough and could potentially create situations where entire families are detained while leaving out safeguards for children.
The changes to the legislation come following bipartisan backlash over the zero tolerance policy, which has left about 2,000 children separated from their guardians over the course of six weeks.
The legislation also revives the 20-day cap on DHS administrative custody for minors — allowing families to remain together throughout the course of proceedings. Children of offenders and felons will, however, be placed in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services under the legislation.
According to the new bill, children of felons and others with criminal histories will still be placed in the custody of DHS.
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