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Texas Lawmakers Introduce Legislation to Help Migrant Children

Lawmakers say bill will close a loophole that draws Central American migrants.

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Under current law, migrants from Central America get special protections that allow them to remain in the United States longer than migrants from Mexico. Republican Senator John Cornyn, along with Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, has introduced a bill called the HUMANE Act that would eliminate those protections and treat all unaccompanied minors the same. Cornyn calls it a deterrence.

“It would stop the vast majority of these children and their families initiating this journey in the first place, only to find out that it would not be successful. And this would be the fix that would solve the problem,” Cornyn said.

The act calls for 40 new immigration judges to hear cases of children who claim they have a legal right to remain in the U.S. It also would require those children to remain in the custody of Health and Human Services rather than being released to family members and it would guarantee they get an immigration hearing within seven days.

“The number of people who would qualify for asylum would be very, very small as a percentage. But we do know that under existing law they would have to present a credible claim of persecution based on their religion or some personal attribute they have. So it would be very narrow,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn says the vast majority of the children would be quickly reunited with family in their home country. The legislation has some bipartisan support and a White House spokesman has suggested they are open to considering the proposal.

 

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Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Executive Producer for News

Laurie Johnson leads daily news coverage for HPM. She helps reporters craft and sharpen their stories on tight deadlines, with the aim of getting the most relevant and current information into local newscasts. Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. She is...

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