WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) introduced the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act, legislation to prohibit family separation and prioritize the resolution of immigration cases involving children and families.
“My goal is to make sure families are not separated, but also prevent the rampant abuse of ‘catch and release’ where people are being released who never show up for their court date,” said Graham. “This bill prevents breaking up real families, but requires adults to show up for court.”
Among the highlights of the legislation:
Prohibits Family Separation and Protects Children at Risk of Harm
- The legislation gives the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) the clear legal authority to keep children under the age of 18 with their families in residential centers, and requires them to keep families together during their legal proceedings.
- The only time children will be separated is if there is a clear danger to the health and safety of the child, including cases where DHS cannot verify that the individual is actually the parent of the child, the parent has a violent history of committing aggravated felonies, or the child has been a victim of sexual or domestic abuse or trafficking.
Authorizes More Immigration Court Judges to Prioritizes Adjudication of Family Cases
- Authorizes 225 new immigration judges to conduct proceedings for children and families that are apprehended at the border. The legislation also requires DHS to prioritize resolving the cases of children and families in family residential centers.
Provides More Money for Family Residential Centers and Sets Mandatory Standards of Care
- Authorizes the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of family residential beds and sets standards to ensure families are treated humanely and fairly pending the outcome of their case.
Graham, along with Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Dean Heller (R-NV), introduced the legislation this afternoon.