Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Reminder from Debbie Smith of Catholic Legal Immigration Network:
The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, the TVPRA, extended and modified certain programs to prevent and prosecute human trafficking and protect the victims of trafficking and slavery. It also set forth requirements for the treatment of unaccompanied children and created substantive and procedural changes for unaccompanied children seeking relief from removal. Some of the protections available under the TVPRA apply to all children regardless of their country of origin. But most of the critical safeguards of the TVPRA affecting unaccompanied children deny those protections to unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada (“contiguous countries”). Thus under the TVPRA, unaccompanied children are treated differently depending on whether they are nationals of “contiguous countries” (Mexico and Canada) or nationals from any other country (“non-contiguous countries”).
The TVPRA protections that are available to unaccompanied children who are not from Mexico or Canada include safeguards regarding apprehension, transfer, and other procedural and substantive benefits. Under the TVPRA, children who are nationals of “non-contiguous” countries must be screened within 48 hours of arrest, transferred to ORR custody within 72 hours, and permitted to apply for relief without being subject to expedited removal. Similarly under the TVPRA, HHS is required to ensure that “non-contiguous” unaccompanied children have legal counsel for all proceedings "to the extent practicable" and consistent with the immigration statute. HHS is also required to work with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to ensure that custodians of unaccompanied children receive legal orientation presentations, that children are placed in safe and secure placements, and that independent child advocates are appointed where needed. All of these procedural and substantive safeguards apply only to the unaccompanied children who are nationals of “non-contiguous” countries – they do not apply to unaccompanied children from Mexico or Canada.
On the other hand, the TVPRA also clarified the definition of Special Immigrant Juvenile status (SIJS), and provided protections to unaccompanied children applying for asylum whether those children were nationals of “contiguous” or “non-contiguous” countries. For more resources, click here.