Collins sponsors legislation to update American immigration laws, processes
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), ranking member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, on Jan. 16 sponsored wide-reaching legislation to close gaps in American immigration laws that ultimately encourage illegal aliens to unlawfully attempt entrance into the United States.
“The humanitarian crisis at our southern border calls for immediate congressional action,” said Rep. Collins.
The congressman was joined by U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) in introducing the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act, H.R. 586, which he said also would protect minors and asylum seekers, and decrease fraud at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Loopholes in U.S. immigration laws are putting Americans and migrants at risk every day,” Rep. Collins said. “These loopholes provide perverse incentives for adults to send children on the hazardous journey across the border, often in the company of dangerous people associated with drug cartels and human trafficking organizations.”
Specifically, two main titles in H.R. 586 address several provisions regarding unaccompanied alien children and asylum reform, according to the text of the proposed bill.
“Our asylum system is not serving people fleeing persecution like it should because it’s weighed down with frivolous claims” that make vulnerable people who qualify for asylum wait longer for that protection, said Rep. Collins. “We have the opportunity to improve our policies on behalf of vulnerable children and families through a common-sense bill that increases integrity within our immigration system.”
If enacted, H.R. 586 would require the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to establish quality assurance procedures for credible fear interviews, which asylum seekers must partake in to express a credible fear of persecution in their homeland. H.R. 586 also would require DHS officials to ask questions during the credible fear interview and record the answers in a cohesive process, according to a summary provided by Rep. Collins’ office.
Additionally, H.R. 586 would increase penalties for someone making false statements during asylum proceedings to discourage such frivolous and fraudulent claims, the summary says.
“Unfortunately, as the evidence shows, lapses in our immigration laws have been abused by many, hampering the resources reserved for refugees and undermining the effectiveness of asylum and border security programs,” Rep. Johnson said. “We must correct the longstanding loopholes that have encouraged illegal immigration and led to the crisis we face today. This bill is a critical step forward in those efforts.”
To keep families together, H.R. 586 would ensure that children who are apprehended at the border with their parent or legal guardian remain together while in DHS custody. The department secretary would be required under the bill to keep them together while their illegal entry cases are pending at the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a summary from Collins’ office.
Regarding children who arrive at the U.S. border without a parent or legal guardian, H.R. 586 would amend the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to set consistent rules on unaccompanied alien children.
Currently, children from countries that border the United States may be safely and immediately returned to their homeland if they consent to being returned, are not human trafficking victims, and are not found to have a credible fear of persecution in their home country.
H.R. 586 would increase protections for victims of human trafficking by requiring that they receive a hearing with an immigration judge within 14 days of their arrival, according to Rep. Collins’ summary, among other provisions.
H.R. 586 has been referred to both the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee for consideration.