Support Legislation to Keep Central American Families Together and Address Root Causes of Violence
Current Co-Sponsors (28): Engel, Torres, Espaillat, Sires, Crowley, Gutierrez, Wasserman Schultz, Norton, Raskin, Meeks, Huffman, Deutch, Correa, Khanna, Lee, Soto, Lewis, Pallone, Velazquez, Gonzalez, Napolitano, Titus, Blumenauer, Rosen, Gomez, Maloney (Sean Patrick), Welch, Veasey,
Organizations in Support: Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), Church World Service, Futures without Violence, Women’s Refugee Commission, International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) at the Urban Justice Center, HIAS
We write to ask you to join us as an original co-sponsor of the Central America Family Protection and Reunification Act which we will introduce on Friday. Text of the legislation can be found here.
Our legislation rejects the Trump Administration’s cruel decision to separate children from their parents and requires the State Department – through our embassies in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala – to play a robust role in keeping the families of immigrants together. While President Trump has signed an executive order that claims to end the inhumane policy of separating parents from their children by standing up a policy of indefinitely detaining up to tens of thousands of families in makeshift jails, the consequences of his heartless action will have long-lasting repercussions.
This bill will also shed needed light on the domestic violence, rape, sex trafficking and femicide driving so many brave women and children toward safe harbor in our country. The very families escaping these horrors are the same ones President Trump has chosen to tear apart.
Specifically, the bill does the following:
- Requires the State Department – through our embassies in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala – to prioritize supporting governments and citizens of these countries to facilitate immediate family reunification. This means working with Central American governments and citizens to help them locate their children and be reunited with them immediately. The bill also obligates the Secretary of State to report to Congress on implementation of this policy.
- Requires reporting from the State Department on gender-based violence, including violence against indigenous women, in the Northern Triangle countries and the inability of perpetrators of this violence to be successfully prosecuted. This information will be useful for Congress, the courts and the public in rejecting Attorney General Sessions’ absurd claim that domestic violence should not be grounds for asylum.
- Requires the Secretary of State to develop a strategy for reducing gender-based violence in the Northern Triangle. This strategy will be developed in coordination with the Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, the Senior Coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at USAID and the President of the Inter-American Foundation.
- Requires reporting on gang and organized crime-related violence in the Northern Triangle, with a particular focus on violence against children. It further requires reporting on the ability of authorities in these countries to prosecutor the perpetrators of these crimes.
- Creates an Office of Victims of Crime Committed against Individuals Removed from the United States at the State Department. This office will study serious crimes committed against individuals deported by the Trump Administration to the Northern Triangle.
- Requires the Secretary of State to develop a strategy to address the psychosocial and health impact that the Trump family separation policy will have on Central American children. In coordination with the USAID Administrator, the Secretary of State will be required to develop a strategy to provide targeted assistance to address the long-term impact of family separation on children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.
We very much hope you will join us as an original co-sponsor of this legislation. Please contact Eric Jacobstein atEric.Jacobstein@mail.house.gov to sign on.
Eliot L. Engel
Committee on Foreign Affairs
Norma J. Torres
Central America Caucus
Member of Congress