Rep. Roybal-Allard Introduces the Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act
Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, has introduced H.R. 3729, the Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act of 2019, which expands protections for vulnerable migrant children while they are in the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
“Many children in CBP custody have endured long and traumatic journeys to the United States, and we must ensure that CBP’s care does not inflict further trauma on these children,” said Congresswoman Roybal-Allard. “That is why we need my Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act, which will help keep families together, care for trafficking victims, and treat all children in custody with compassion, dignity, and respect. My bill will also mandate that children have access to basic necessities while they are in CBP custody – necessities like adequate food and drinking water, and a safe and sanitary place to stay. I urge my colleagues to join me to pass this bill and help these children.”
“The CTVPWA will help ensure any child coming to this country asking for protection will be treated fairly and with compassion,” said Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) President Wendy Young. “We need to end the unacceptable and needless suffering of children at our border. We applaud Rep. Roybal-Allard’s commitment to legislation that outlines minimum standards of care in CBP facilities and requires trained child welfare professionals to care for these children.”
The Child Trafficking Victims Protection and Welfare Act requires CBP to consult with experts in child welfare, development, and health; develop guidelines for the treatment of children in its custody; and require licensed child welfare professionals to be available at certain ports of entry or Border Patrol stations. Such experts will be able to identify victims of trafficking and ensure they receive adequate care while in CBP custody. The bill would require all children in CBP custody to be provided with basic necessities, including a safe, sanitary, and climate-appropriate living environment, adequate nutrition, potable water, educational materials, and recreational activities. The CTVPWA also includes a number of provisions to prevent family separation and to assist the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services in reuniting separated families. Additionally, the bill establishes a program that ensures the safe repatriation and reintegration of children who return to their country of nationality or last habitual residence, to help ensure these children are not placed back into the hands of traffickers.
Congresswoman Roybal-Allard first introduced this legislation in 2008 as part of the Immigration Oversight and Protection Act. The bill was also offered and accepted as an amendment by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) to the Senate comprehensive immigration reform legislation of 2013, S. 744. Congresswoman Roybal-Allard has also been a fierce advocate for improving the care of unaccompanied children in the United States. As part of the Fiscal Year 2020 House Homeland Security Appropriations Report, which Congresswoman Roybal-Allard led as chairwoman of the DHS Appropriations Subcommittee, DHS is directed to hire child welfare professionals with training in cultural competency and trauma-informed care to provide assistance at land ports of entry and Border Patrol stations.