WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has introduced a bill that looks to keep illegal immigrant families together and expedite the asylum process. This is in response to the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance” border enforcement policy that is being blamed for separating immigrant children from their families after the crossed into the U.S. illegally.
The newly-introduced “Protect Kids and Parents Act” states that illegal immigrant families “must be kept together” when they cross in the U.S. Exceptions that would allow kids to be removed from custody of their parents include cases involving aggravated criminal conduct or threat or harm to the children. The child may be removed if there are signs of abuse, neglect or evidence of human trafficking.
The new bill also looks to expedite the process of granting asylum to families with children who crossed over illegally. It would allow families to know within 14 days if they will be allowed to stay in the U.S. If it is found that those individuals with children aren’t allowed to stay, they will be sent back to their home countries as a family.
The bill would double with amount of federal immigration judges so that claims of individuals with children could be processed faster. This would increase the amount of judges from about 375 to 750.
Family shelters would also be put into place so that children can remain with their parents while their claims are being processed.
In a statement on the newly-introduced bill, Sen. Cruz said:
“Over the past few weeks, Americans have been rightly horrified by the images and videos coming from our southern border, where tearful children are being pulled away from their mothers and fathers. There is no doubt that this must stop, immediately. We can come together to fix this problem. The Protect Kids and Parents Act focuses on solving the current problem: it stops family separation, except in situations where it is necessary to protect the health and well-being of the child, and doubles the number of immigration judges and expedites the process by which we handle asylum claims by families who enter our country. I hope that my Democratic colleagues can join with us to stop the crisis that is occurring at the border.”