The President can likely dominate the Washington coverage of immigration in the next month with the courts being the only potential roadblock to any additional aggressive presidential actions. There are a number of immigration bills under consideration by either House of the Congress. The Senate wrapped up their work on Thursday in the most contentious way. Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, pushed through his own bill through that Committee. S. 1494. The bill is opposed by a large group of immigrant and children’s groups including the Child Welfare League of America. Among other things it would weaken the Flores Agreement that limits the amount of time a child can remain in detention (along with family) to no more than 20 days. Graham would overturn that more than 20-year-old protection and allow the Administration to hold children and their families in detention for 100 days. The bill would also preempt any state regulation of any immigrant facilities. Currently states are required to regulate these facilities if they are not on federal property. S. 1494 (Manager’s Amendment) that was passed out of Committee with a major fight between Democrats and Republicans with Democrats accusing Graham of changing Committee rules just to pass the bill..

Shortly before the break, (Thursday, July 25, 2019) CWLA President & CEO Chris James-Brown issued a position statement regarding family separation and national immigration policy.

“We are urging Congress and the President to strengthen protections for these families and, where protections don’t exit, to create them in an appropriate way that keeps families together. CWLA also urges great caution in relying on local child welfare courts to make determinations on separating families. Decisions related to the termination of the rights of the parent or legal guardians or to separate these children from their parents or guardians are complex and although they can rely on the goals of domestic child welfare policy and practice they require additional guidelines, training and accountability for the people making the decisions.”

Immigration is certain to come up with the FY 2020 appropriations negotiation. It is also hard to predict what other actions the President may precipitate. Both sides will also be preparing for the Supreme Court consideration of the DACA executive order of President Obama will arguments planned for November.

The Children’s Immigration Law Academy (CILA), an ABA program, has a website: Pro Bono Matters for Children Facing Deportation that allows lawyers to search for available pro bono cases representing a different population – children who cross the border unaccompanied. Most cases require foreign language ability from the attorney.

About the Author:

John Sciamanna is CWLA's Vice President of Public Policy.

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