Texas Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar says he is planning to introduce bipartisan legislation to tweak a 2008 trafficking law that placed added protections on unaccompanied children from noncontiguous countries.
“It’s a very simple piece of legislation that amends the 2008 human trafficking act,” he told reporters Wednesday evening, explaining it would treat all unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors the same.
“Nobody has told me why we treat contiguous countries and non-contiguous countries differently,” he said.
Cuellar acknowledged that the 2008 law was intended to protect trafficking victims and said that he intends to have protections in his bill to continue to provide options for asylum and other protections for potential victims – but with expedited timeframes for immigration hearings.
The Texas Congressman – who recently received a visit from an administration official after being critical of the White House’s response to the border crisis – recounted that border officials have told him the average wait time for an immigration hearing is about two years, and even if there is an order for removal, if the child is not a criminal he or she will be at the bottom of the government’s priorities for removal.