July 30, 2019
Franciscan Action Network (FAN) opposes S. 1494, the so-called “Secure and Protect Act of 2019” which neither secures nor protects, but rather undermines critical protection for children as well as the United States asylum system, making it more difficult for families to seek protection. FAN believes that any legislative response to the humanitarian crisis on the border must safeguard migrant children, keep family units intact, and assure due process for asylum seekers. Because S. 1494 does not meet any of these requirements, based on our faith principles, FAN urges members of Congress to reject this harmful bill.
S. 1494 would eliminate legal protections for children under the Flores agreement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2008. Children could be held in detention up to 100 days, while evidence shows that detention for even shorter periods has harmful, long-term impacts, including psychological trauma, on children. The way in which a country treats children, all children, regardless of immigration status, is a measure of the country’s moral values.
According to international law, people have the legal right to seek protection from violence and persecution. Families fleeing their homes to escape violence and death threats must have their asylum claims heard, not be illegally turned away or criminalized. S. 1494 would greatly weaken the U.S. asylum system.
Our Christian faith demands that we must speak up in defense of vulnerable migrants and oppose efforts to treat them inhumanely. Recently, FAN was an endorser of and participant in the Catholic Action to “Stop the Inhumanity” held on Capitol Hill. Now we urge members of Congress to reject the Secure and Protection Act of 2019 and work instead to truly protect vulnerable migrants, especially children, and to uphold U.S. asylum law.