The Protect Family Values at the Border Act (PFVBA) has been re-introduced by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA), Co-Chair of the Women’s Working Group on Immigration Reform and the Ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee. The bill would create new safeguards for individuals in Customs and Border Protection (CBP) custody and ensure a commitment to family unity and family values in CBP policies and procedures.
The bill would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish basic humane treatment standards for immigrants in the custody of CBP, and also ensure families are not needlessly separated or placed at increased risk of harm at the border. Twenty members of Congress have signed on as original cosponsors of this bill.
“As the current administration seeks to marginalize and demonize immigrants,” Roybal-Allard claimed, “we must push back and demand that they be treated with the respect and dignity that all humans deserve. That goes for all immigrants, including those who are apprehended at our nation’s border and taken into CBP custody. Many of these migrants often have no choice but to take tremendous risks making the treacherous journey to the United States to escape terrible violence and death threats. I am [re]introducing the Protect Family Values at the Border Act because it is critical that we afford these detained migrants basic, civilized treatment.”
“Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service has seen firsthand the trauma caused to kids who have been separated from their families at the border,” said Linda Hartke, President and CEO of Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS). “It’s time we consider the best interests of children through humane solutions like the Protect Family Values at the Border Act.”
“The Women’s Refugee Commission is grateful that Rep. Roybal-Allard continues to be a strong voice standing up for the rights and needs of women and children seeking protection at our borders,” said Katharina Obser, Senior Program Officer at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “At a time when families seeking protection face the risk of separation and inappropriate custody conditions and screening procedures, the PFVBA would help ensure more humane treatment in border custody and respect for the fundamental value of family unity.”
The PFVBA would “ensure CBP agents consider the best interests of apprehended individuals’ children, family unity and other factors,” according to an announcement about re=introduction of this legislation. “In addition, the bill [would] require training for all CBP personnel regarding legal authorities, policies and procedures relevant to a child’s best interest.”
The bill would also ensure women and children are not deported in an unsafe manner or needlessly separated from family members with whom they are traveling. The PFVBA would also require DHS to promulgate regulations establishing standards for CBP custody. “These regulations cover basic humane treatment, such as providing food, emergency medical care, translated legal documents, timely transfers and access to facilities by non-governmental organizations,” the lawmaker’s office said.