Lofgren: GOP working group proposals will endanger child victims of trafficking and persecution

July 23, 2014
Press Release
WASHINGTON , DC – Key border proposals issued today by the Republican House working group to address the humanitarian crisis at the southern border would carelessly return vulnerable children to traffickers for persecution and abuse, said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose, Calif.).

Lofgren, the Senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, called for responding to the humanitarian crisis in a manner that ensures vulnerable children are not hastily returned to life-threatening circumstances:

"Stripping these children of their due process rights to more rapidly deport them back to extreme danger or sex trafficking is not a workable solution. If these proposals were to become law, we know that vulnerable children would be returned to their traffickers and others who would continue to persecute and abuse them. We know this because the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and others have carefully studied this issue and discovered that victims of trafficking and violence from Mexico are routinely screened in a cursory manner and wrongly returned to face further abuse or worse at the hands of their traffickers. Expanding this process to all children is not only wrong, but will make the problem worse. Victims will simply try to escape the violence again – but instead of seeking out Border Patrol agents for safety as they do now, they may try to avoid detection – and we will see more dead children in the desert as a result.

"We must ensure every child is thoroughly screened so that we do not hastily return little children to life-threatening circumstances or sex trafficking. Children with legitimate claims should be treated in a safe, secure and humane manner while they are in the United States. Those who do not need protection will be returned home after screening.

"We are faced with a clear choice. We can respond to this humanitarian challenge in a manner consistent with our laws and values, investing the resources needed to provide due process, or we can repeal the law and let vulnerable children be returned to sex traffickers or other victimizers. Unfortunately, the proposals released by my colleagues today fail to meet the standards we should hold ourselves to as Americans."

The Republican working group proposals to roll back anti-trafficking protections for Central American child refugees were announced on the same day the House is expected to take up several anti-trafficking bills on the floor.

# # #