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SR-114 (2017-2018)

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SR114:v96#DOCUMENT

Enrolled  July 03, 2018
Passed  IN  Senate  July 02, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  June 26, 2018
Amended  IN  Senate  June 19, 2018

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Senate Resolution
No. 114


Introduced by Senators De León, Beall, Lara, Hueso, Atkins, Dodd, Glazer, Hernandez, Leyva, McGuire, Monning, Skinner, Wieckowski, and Wiener

June 14, 2018


Relative to immigration


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SR 114, De León.

WHEREAS, In May 2018, the Trump Administration ordered the federal prosecution of any individual caught crossing the border illegally; and
WHEREAS, The Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security have implemented a “zero-tolerance” policy in which those who cross the border outside of legal ports of entry are automatically charged; and
WHEREAS, There is no law that calls for separating children from their parents. The Trump Administration chose a policy of family separation as a punitive measure intended to deter asylum seekers; and
WHEREAS, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has insisted that separating children when parents are prosecuted for crossing the border is no different than separating children from parents who have been criminally convicted and sent to prison; and
WHEREAS, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated in regard to the Trump Administration’s policy, “If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that”; and
WHEREAS, The Trump Administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy led to the separation of approximately 2,500 children from their parents. These children were placed in federal detention facilities and foster shelters, hundreds of miles away from their parents; and
WHEREAS, Many of the parents under prosecution are seeking asylum, as is their right under national and international laws; and
WHEREAS, Asylum is a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or at the border who meet the international law definition of a “refugee”: “a person who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her home country, due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” The United States Congress incorporated this definition into the immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980; and
WHEREAS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services describes the process for asylum as follows: “You may apply for asylum status regardless of how you arrived in the United States or your current immigration status”; and
WHEREAS, Despite claims by the federal government that families crossing at official ports of entry will have an opportunity to ask for asylum, parents who are immigrating have been turned away or arrested and separated from their children; and
WHEREAS, Few refugees are granted asylum annually. According to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, approximately 62 percent of applicants were denied asylum in 2016; and
WHEREAS, The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has stated that the Trump Administration’s practice of separating children from migrant families entering the United States violates their rights and international law; and
WHEREAS, Parents whose children were removed have received little to no information with regards to the location of their children and the process for reunification. In some reported instances, parents have been deported to their country of origin without their children; and
WHEREAS, A Congolese woman and child arrived at a United States port of entry near San Diego and asked for asylum, with the mother fearing death if she returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The daughter was separated from her mother, without explanation, and sent to a detention center in Chicago; and
WHEREAS, A mother from El Salvador, who was fleeing the gangs threatening her 16-year-old son, was forcibly separated from her three children after crossing the United States-Mexico border; and
WHEREAS, The separation and subsequent lack of channels for immigrants to communicate with their children leads to a traumatic experience for all members of the family. This results in emotional and physical trauma, especially for young children who are forced to adapt to new environments with strangers without any certainty as to when they will be reunited with their loved ones; and
WHEREAS, The American Academy of Pediatrics has spoken out against the separation of families, stating that the “Federal authorities must exercise caution to ensure that the emotional and physical stress children experience as they seek refuge in the United States is not exacerbated by the additional trauma of being separated from their siblings, parents or other relatives and caregivers. Proposals to separate children from their families as a tool of law enforcement to deter immigration are harsh and counterproductive”; and
WHEREAS, The recent announcement that children will no longer be separated from their parents raises additional questions as to whether or not children currently in detention facilities and shelters can effectively be reunited with their parents. The federal government has yet to offer a credible plan on how and when it plans to reunite children with their parents; and
WHEREAS, Despite reversing its inhumane policy of separating children from their parents at the border, the Trump Administration will continue to pursue its misguided zero-tolerance immigration policy that will require a dramatic expansion of detention facilities and the incarceration of children while their parents await prosecution. In order to do so, the Trump Administration has petitioned the court to revisit the Flores Settlement to allow the indefinite detention of children with their parents; and
WHEREAS, In 2014, the Board of Immigration Appeals set the important precedent that women fleeing domestic violence are eligible to apply for asylum; and
WHEREAS, Under the guise of reducing the backlog in immigration courts, Attorney General Sessions recently overturned the precedent, deciding that victims of gang violence and domestic abuse would not qualify for asylum under federal law; and
WHEREAS, The Attorney General reversed a 2016 asylum case that granted relief to a Salvadoran woman whose former husband raped and beat her for 15 years; and
WHEREAS, The Attorney General’s reversal of established precedent will potentially invalidate tens of thousands of pending claims brought by women, children, and men fleeing violence in their home countries, placing these victims in direct harm if returned to their country of origin; now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate of the State of California, That the Senate denounces the persecution and the cruel policies that place vulnerable victims of crime in further danger; and be it further
Resolved, That the Senate calls for just and humane immigration proceedings that protect family units, ensure the welfare of children and domestic violence survivors, and provide for an accessible asylum process; and be it further
Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the author for appropriate distribution.