Unity Blueprint Action Initiatives

Unity Blueprint Children & Families Initiative

Protecting the well-being and safety of innocent immigrant and U.S. citizen children.

The rights of U.S. citizen and immigrant children are of major concern and must be properly addressed. Separation of children from their family creates extreme hardships and detrimentally impacts the well-being, safety, and security of thousands of innocent children each year.

A. Amend the INA to permit the parents of U.S. citizens to petition through their US citizen children under 21 years of age.

Certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) currently bar immigration petitions by parents of United States citizen children until such children turn 21 years of age. This bar is a relatively recent amendment to the INA. Repealing this bar and permitting the parents of U.S. citizen children to petition to legalize their status would decrease the undocumented population while promoting family values and the well-being of innocent children.

B. Support enactment of the DREAM Act

The DREAM Act is bipartisan legislation that addressed the tragedy of young people who grew up in the U.S. and have graduated from our high schools, but whose future is circumscribed by our current immigration laws. Under current law, these young people generally derive their immigration status solely from their parents, and if their parents are undocumented or in immigration limbo, most have no mechanism to obtain legal residency even if they have lived most of their lives here. The DREAM Act provides such a mechanism for those who are able to meet certain conditions. The DREAM Act would enact two major changes in current law. It would permit certain immigrant students who have grown up in the U.S. to apply for temporary legal status and eventually obtain permanent status and become eligible for citizenship if they go to college or serve in the U.S. military and eliminate a federal provision that penalizes states that provide in-state tuition without regard to immigration status.

Thousands of undocumented immigrant youth enter the United States every year. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) has the potential to allow these immigrant children every opportunity to succeed and benefit our society. The DREAM Act will facilitate the education of immigrant youth and legalize a population that is otherwise almost certain to remain permanently residing in the United States in underground and unlawful status. In fact, this country has already invested substantially in the education of many of these children, making support of a program to legalize their status all the more desirable.

C. Support enactment of the Child Citizen Protection Act

Support enactment of the CHILD CITIZEN PROTECTION ACT (H.R. 1176), introduced by Congressman Jose Serrano (D-NY). The bill would allow an immigration judge to consider the well being of US citizen children before deporting an immigrant parent. The bill would restore partial discretion to immigration judges in cases where removal of an immigrant is clearly against the best interest of a child that is a United States citizen. Currently, an immigration judge presiding over cases that would separate parents from children, has no choice but to order permanent removal of the undocumented parent from the United States. There is no room to consider the harm such separation would cause to the child, who is a citizen. As a result of this, the parents who do have citizenship have been forced to become single parents, dependents have become breadwinners, and working American families have joined the welfare rolls. Most importantly, the children, who bear no blame, have lost contact with a parent and intact families are broken apart.

D. Amend the INA to require that apprehended immigrant children are informed about rights they possess to legalize their status under existing laws enacted by Congress and are afforded the assistance of counsel.

Enact legislation requiring that all apprehended unaccompanied immigrant children should be questioned about their possible eligibility for benefits under the Immigration Act including Special Immigrant Juvenile status, informed of their right to apply for such benefits, and provided with representation at Government expense or referrals to free legal assistance so that they may exercise the rights extended to them by Congress rather than being deported in derogation of such rights.



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