This bill — the Keep Families Together Act — would prohibit federal agencies from separating unauthorized immigrant children from their parents within 100 miles of the border unless: a state court or state child welfare agency determine it would be in the best interest of the child; or the Chief Patrol Agent or Area Port Director believe the child is a victim of trafficking, or the child is in danger of abuse or neglect at the parent’s hands. Federal agencies would be directed to presume that detention isn’t in the best interest of families and children and try to keep family and sibling groups together to the greatest extent possible.
All separations would require written documentation regarding the reason for the separation and supporting evidence. The Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) would be required to publish a guidance detailing how a parent or legal guardian could locate a child they were separated from, which would be provided to the parent or guardian in a language understandable to them.
The Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) would be required to develop training procedures and processes for Border Patrol Agents or Officers to make recommendations regarding separation.
DHS would provide Congress with an annual report that’d describe each details about each instance of separation, including: the relationship of the adult and child and their age and gender; the length of the separation; whether the adult was charged, prosecuted, or convicted of a crime; whether the adult made an asylum claim, expressed a fear to return, or sought other immigration relief; if the child was part of a sibling group and whether the sibling group had visitation; whether the child’s was changed to “unaccompanied”; the reason for the separation; and other information at DHS’ discretion.
DHS would provide parents or legal guardians separated from the children a monthly status report on the activities of their children, their health and education, changes in their immigration status, or other information as needed to promote family reunification.