Bipartisan Amendment to Keep Families Together Passes Senate Committee

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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee today unanimously approved an amendment to strengthen protections for children in the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill. The amendment, sponsored by Senators Al Franken, D-Minn., and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, would keep families together whenever possible and help mitigate harm to children, including preventing children from entering foster care when immigration enforcement results in the detention or removal of their parents.

The Humane Enforcement and Legal Protections for Separated Children Act (“HELP” Separated Children Act) would allow parents affected by immigration enforcement to make calls to arrange for the care of their children; ensure that children can call or visit their parents while they are detained; allow parents to participate in state child welfare agency and family court proceedings affecting their children; ensure that parents being removed from or voluntarily departing the United States can coordinate their repatriation with their children; require immigration officials to consider the best interests of children in detention, release, and transfer decisions affecting their parents; and provide training for immigration and detention facility personnel on best practices for protecting children.