Sen. Richard Blumenthal

Xinhua/Sipa USA

Blumenthal: Bill Would Protect Children Whose Parents Are Detained By ICE

May 24, 2018 - 3:36 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880) -- U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) announced Thursday that he has introduced legislation to protect minor children who are left alone when their parents are taken away by immigration agents.

The bill is called the HELP Separated Children’s Act. It would allow parents to make cans to arrange for the care of their children and ensure that children can call their parents when detained, allow parents to participate fully in family court proceedings, protect children from being forced to serve as interpreters in immigration enforcement actions, ensure that parents can coordinate departures with their children before being taken into custody, and require Immigration and Customs Enforcement to consider children’s best interests when their parents are detained or arrested.

Speaking to WCBS 880’s Michael Wallace, Blumenthal said there are more than 5 million children in the U.S. who are living with at least one undocumented immigrant parent.

“What we’ve seen repeatedly in Connecticut and New York and New Jersey is arrests – draconian roundups of undocumented people who have children – U.S. citizens born in this country – their children living with them,” he said. “So this bill would permit parents to participate in decisions about where those children go; protect them from draconian decisions that ICE can make and consider the best interests of children when their parents are detained and transferred.”

Blumenthal said the bill would not stop many of the deportations, but would help protect the children who are abandoned.

Currently, a range of things can happen to children who are left behind when their parents are deported, Blumenthal explained.

“It can range from a relative taking them to a foster parent situation or temporary custody. In Connecticut, these children, if they are left alone, are really completely alone in many instances, and can be subject to the whims of the process,” he said, “and that’s really not only cruel and unfair, but it also is against our interests in the long run, because children of detained parents – many of them have been taken into custody themselves, and they are then turned over to people who may or may not care for them.”

Blumenthal said the bill has strong bipartisan support.

“I’m hoping that a Congress that is so polarized on many, many issues will take this humanitarian cause for United States citizens – I can’t repeat often enough, these 5 million children are U.S. citizens. They were born in this country,” he said. “They had the misfortune of their parents – often misled by bad lawyers; I say that without any great pride, I’m a lawyer myself – but their parents are sometimes in this country illegally because they’re misadvised.”