Democrats introduce bill protecting potential sponsors of migrant kids from ICE
Two leading Senate Democrats have introduced legislation seeking to block one of the most despicable trends emerging from the Trump administration’s mass deportation agenda: the arrests of undocumented immigrants, including family members, who have stepped forward to sponsor migrant children under U.S. custody.
Trump administration officials, under the the guise of kid’s safety, have increased sponsor vetting by partnering with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But immigrant rights advocates warned earlier this year that this could lead to arrests of sponsors and scare other potential applicants away. That’s exactly what happened, when in September, a top ICE official confirmed that the agency had arrested dozens in this way.
Under the bill introduced by Senators Kamala Harris of California and Ron Wyden of Oregon, ICE would be blocked “from using information gathered in the process of resettling unaccompanied immigrant children to take civil enforcement actions against individuals in the homes of prospective sponsors.” In October, House Democrats introduced a bill also seeking to protect sponsors. While the Senate continues to remain under Republican control, this is something Democrats could, and should, tackle when they take over the House next year.
The administration currently has a record number of migrant kids in custody, nearly all of them minors who came to the U.S. by themselves. Children could be released to family members and other sponsors, but the administration has been intentionally roadblocking mechanisms by which kids can be released. That now includes this unprecedented baiting tactic that immigrant rights advocates have called “a new outrageous low, even by the standards of a Trump administration.”
“Right now,” Harris said in a statement, “unaccompanied children are being held in detention facilities or living in tent cities due in part to potential sponsors’ fear of retribution from ICE for coming forward. This is an unacceptable obstacle to getting these children into a safe home, and we must fix it.”