News Releases

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Isakson Introduces Legislation to Uphold the Law Without Separating Families

'Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act' introduced today would add immigration judges, require fair treatment of immigrants

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today joined with more than two dozen of his Senate colleagues to introduce the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act that would keep our U.S. borders secure and end the separation of families at the border by adding new immigration court judges, allowing families to be processed together, and requiring their fair and humane treatment while awaiting immigration processing.

“We should not separate children from their parents at the border, and Congress and the administration should work to keep families together whenever possible while enforcing our laws and protecting the border,” said Isakson. “Our porous borders combined with dangerous conditions in other parts of the world have caused an influx of immigrants entering the country illegally. The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act would help us deal with this influx and improve the processing of immigration cases by adding judges and residential centers while also allowing families to stay together.”

The Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act was introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and would specifically require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to keep accompanied minors under age 18 together with their families at the border in residential housing centers pending the outcome of their civil or criminal immigration proceeding.

Additionally, the legislation provides additional funding for family residential centers, sets mandatory standards for care, and authorizes 225 new immigration judges for the purposes of expediting proceedings for children and families who are apprehended at the border.

The legislation is widely supported by Senate Republicans, and in addition to Isakson and Tillis, is cosponsored by Senators John Boozman, R-Ark., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, Deb Fischer, R-Neb., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Dean Heller, R-Nev., John Hoeven, R-N.D., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., James Lankford, R-Okla., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, David Perdue, R-Ga., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Ben Sasse, R-Neb., and John Thune, R-S.D.

Specifically, the Keep Families Together and Enforce the Law Act would:

  • Require the Department of Homeland Security to keep immigrant families together pending the outcome of their civil or criminal immigration proceedings.
  • Authorize 225 new immigration judges for the purposes of expediting proceedings for children and families that are apprehended at the border.
  • Require the secretary of Homeland Security and the attorney general to prioritize resolving the cases of children and families in residential centers.
  • Authorize the secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of family residential beds.
  • Set standards of care for family residential centers to ensure immigrant families are treated humanely and fairly pending the outcome of their case.

The legislation also incorporates provisions from the Keeping Families Together Act introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., by requiring a child to be removed from an individual who presents a clear danger to the health and safety of the child. Specifically, the child would be removed if:

  • The Department of Homeland Security cannot verify that the individual is actually the parent of the child;
  • The parent of the child has a violent history of committing aggravated felonies;
  • The child has been a victim of sexual or domestic abuse; or
  • The child has been a victim of trafficking.

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