Principles for Children in Immigration Reform

Published On: February 1, 2013


Two page document advocating the following:

- A direct, clear, and reasonable pathway to citizenship. Any pathway to citizenship must be open, affordable, safe, and accessible to children in need of status, including beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), undocumented children under the age of 21, and unaccompanied immigrant children.
- Protection and promotion of children’s fundamental rights. Our immigration system must uphold children’s constitutional rights and ensure equal access to critical public services, programs, and economic supports for children and their families. The protection of fundamental rights also includes ensuring all children receive legal representation before all immigration authorities and, for all unaccompanied children, the appointment of an independent child advocate from the moment of detention throughout the course of any immigration or other related court proceedings.
- Ensure that enforcement efforts have appropriate protections for children. In all enforcement actions, including those along the border, the best interests of the child should be a primary consideration and children must be given the benefit of the doubt during any investigation, inquiry or detention. There should be appropriate and accountable training policies and protocols for interacting with and screening children that reflects a humanitarian and protection-oriented approach, prohibits the use of force with children, and creates reasonable and safe conditions for children while in or released from the custody of all arms of the federal government.
- Keep families together. All policies regarding admissibility, enforcement, detention, and deportation of children and their parents must duly consider the best interests of children, including enabling immigration judges to exercise discretion in admission and removal decisions based on the hardship to U.S. citizen and lawful permanent resident children. The immigration system must be updated by resolving current backlogs and ensuring family-based immigration channels are adequate for future migration without lengthy family separation.

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