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Wicker cosponsors ‘Protect Kids and Parents Act’

Photo courtesy of Senator Roger Wicker.

In recent weeks, immigration policy has roared back to the forefront of the national conversation as children of illegal immigrants are being separated from their parents.

According to Fox News, nearly 2,300 children have been taken from the parents and are being held in border patrol facilities.

As lawmakers, both Republicans and Democrats, seek to find a better way to keep families together, Senator Ted Cruz has introduced the Protect Kids and Parents Act’. The bill would also provide expedited processing so that families who meet the legal criteria could stay and those who do not will be returned to their home countries within 14 days. Senator Wicker has pledged his support for the bill, stating that he cannot imagine what these families are going through.

“President Trump has called on Congress to change immigration laws to prevent children of illegal immigrants from being separated from their parents,” Wicker said. “This practice is so painful because we cannot imagine being separated from our own children. The legislation I cosponsored would keep families together and help remove the backlog of pending asylum cases, which are overwhelming our judicial system and keeping too many claims in limbo. These reforms are needed so that we can move beyond this issue and focus on the many other challenges facing our immigration system, including the need for strong border security.”

The bill would require families of illegal immigrants to be kept together except in specific circumstances, including the threat of harm or abuse to the child, or evidence that the child is a victim of human trafficking.

In an effort to speed up the legal process, the bill would double the number of federal immigration judges to 750. These new judges would prioritize processing claims of individuals with children.

The bill would also authorize new family shelters so that children could remain with their parents while their claims are being processed. The situation continues to unfold and now, President Trump has signed an executive order, ending family separations at the border.

“It’s about keeping families together while ensuring we have a powerful border,” Trump said.

He also went on to say that whatever he signs would be matched by legislation. The separations stemmed from the administration’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy, which aims to prosecute all illegal border crossers. But because of a 1997 order and related decisions, children cannot be detained for longer than 20 days with the adults.

Earlier this week, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen spoke about the policy and its effect during a meeting of the National Sheriffs’ Association.

“We will not apologize for the job we do or for the job law enforcement does for doing the job that the American people expect us to do,” Nielsen said. “Illegal actions have and must have consequences. No more free passes, no more get out of jail free cards.”

Recently, Mississippi Congressman Bennie G. Thompson joined 107 other representatives in a letter written to the Department of Homeland Security urging them to stop separating families at the border.

“Many parents arrive at our borders with their children to seek protection—a lawful act. In the last several years, the numbers of such families apprehended at our southern border has increased. Overwhelming evidence shows this is driven by rising levels of violence and persecution in their home countries,” wrote the members. “We believe that in a misguided attempt to reduce these numbers, DHS has been separating families with the hope that cruel treatment at our borders will send a message to and deter future migrants.”

Thompson, Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, is currently sponsoring a Congressional panel discussion on the family separation crisis which can be viewed below:

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