SACRAMENTO – In response to the humanitarian crisis of unaccompanied minors arriving to California from Central America, new legislation would ensure these children are able to receive appropriate legal representation for their immigration hearings.
Responses from Assemblymembers to the new legislation include:
“With these bills we’re making it clear California wants unaccompanied immigrant children treated as children. We want their well-being ensured, their best interests pursued, and their safety protected. While no longer in the headlines, the humanitarian crisis that has brought so many children to our country continues. While the root causes of this crisis are being addressed, these victimized children deserve to be treated with kindness and justice.” – Speaker Toni G. Atkins (D-San Diego)
“These children are in a dire situation and deserve full due process and every opportunity to stay here in America. This legislation is a step toward providing the support they need, including assuring that there are interpreters available for these children in court.” – Assemblymember Marc Levine (D-San Rafael)
“The recent surge of unaccompanied minors is an issue that goes beyond the debate of our nation’s flawed immigration system. This is a question of whether or not we ought to take proper care of helpless children with no one to turn to. I applaud the leadership of our state’s highest officials for authorizing $3 million in emergency legal funds to give these children an effective voice in court and help protect their fundamental human rights.” – Assemblymember Luis Alejo (D-Salinas)
“The bottom line is these are children, and they deserve our help and protection. Defending their human rights is the least we can do. Can you imagine sending your children before a court in a foreign country without any assistance?” – Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal (D-Long Beach)
“The well-being of our children, especially the most vulnerable, is a top priority for our state and country. The thousands of frightened children who have arrived in this country unaccompanied deserve due process in determining whether or not they can be safely returned to their country. At the very least, AB 1477 will give our state the resources to ensure that a child will be returning to a safe environment rather than one where he or she faces imminent threat of injury or death. I am proud that our state is taking this critical step to help these innocent children.” – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda)
“The authorization of $3 million in emergency legal funds will provide much needed assistance to unaccompanied minors arriving in California and ensure that their fundamental human rights are protected. The immigration process is complex and intimidating for children and we must do everything we can to make sure they are treated fairly under our legal system. Providing adequate legal representation is an important step in reaching that goal.” – Assemblymember Ian Calderon (D-Whittier)
“I am proud to support this bill, which upholds the rights of innocent, unaccompanied children escaping violence in their home country. These children need help, and as Californians we should be proud to offer our hand to them.” – Assemblymember Steven Bradford (D-Gardena)
“Our country was founded with principle of due process for everyone and nobody deserves fair treatment in our legal system more than innocent children who are left to fend for themselves in a court of law. I couldn’t be prouder to see California setting an example that hopefully the rest of the country can follow.” – Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)
Assembly Bill 1477 and Senate Bill 873 would provide $3 million to qualified non-profits to help unaccompanied children receive legal services. Furthermore, these bills streamline the process by which the state court can gather information, enabling the federal government to grant these minors special immigrant juvenile status which will expedite their naturalization process.
In July, Speaker Atkins and members of the Legislative Latino Caucus toured Naval Base Ventura County to review the conditions in which undocumented, unaccompanied children were being housed and to view how the children were responding following their journeys from Central America. Following the tour, Speaker Atkins instructed her staff to identify funding sources to aid the children in the legal process.
CONTACT: Will Shuck (916) 319-2408
Website of Assembly Speaker Toni G. Atkins: http://asmdc.org/speaker