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US lawmakers introduce bill on migrant children

[JURIST] Texas lawmakers Senator John Cornyn (R) and Representative Henry Cuellar (D) introduced bipartisan legislation [press release] Tuesday that would change a current border protection law to allow the US government to more easily deport Central American minors that have crossed the US-Mexico border. The bill, referred to as the HUMANE Act [text, PDF], an acronym for Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency would rewrite [WP report] the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 [text], which provides greater legal protection to minor immigrants who attempt to enter the United States from non-contiguous countries. The HUMANE Act would change the law to allow the government to treat these minors like those those from Mexico and Canada, countries from which undocumented children can be deported more rapidly. Also included in the proposed legislation is authorization for 40 new immigration judges to help process the backlog of deportation cases.

The US government is facing a massive influx of undocumented children coming from Central American countries. At the end of June the Obama administration announced that it would boost the ranks [JURIST report] of immigration judges, lawyers and asylum officers to decrease the flow of undocumented children into the country. According to homeland security deputy director Alejandro Mayorkas [official profile], 52,000 unaccompanied children arrived on the US border with Mexico between October 2013 and June 2014. In April the US Department of Justice released statistics [JURIST report] that show a steady decline in new deportation cases brought by the Obama administration in US immigration courts over the last five years and that more judges have begun ruling against deportations.

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