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The Women's Refugee Commission Applauds Introduction of Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act into Immigration Reform Legislation

Washington- Today Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard and Representative Ros-Lehtinenintroduced the Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act, legislation to improve conditions and protections for unaccompanied children detained by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CTVPA was included in Senate immigration reform legislation (S.744). The introduction of this legislation today will give the House of Representatives the opportunity to debate the importance of protection of children in the immigration system.

“Tens of thousands of children arrive at our border each year having endured harrowing journeys from their home countries,” said Rep. Roybal-Allard.  “Along the way, many are trafficked and suffer horrendous abuses, including sexual assault.  Unfortunately, despite the billions we spend on border security, these vulnerable kids aren’t always afforded the care and compassion they deserve.  The Child Trafficking Victims Protection Act will deploy trained child welfare experts to our border stations to ensure we are effectively identifying child trafficking victims and that all children in CBP custody are treated with basic kindness and dignity.”   


Unaccompanied alien children are children without lawful legal immigration status in the United States, without a parent or legal guardian in the United States. Many of these children come from Central American countries, fleeing violence and poverty. They are often victims of violence as they attempt the journey to the U.S.

“Children are particularly vulnerable during the immigration process,” said, Michelle Brané, Director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission. “We must ensure that children are protected throughout the immigration process, especially if they are detained. We cannot allow their basic needs to go unmet and cannot allow children to be placed into the hands of traffickers who would do them harm.”

The CTVPA provides protections for unaccompanied alien children who are detained by CBP. The CTVPA would put child welfare professionals in CBP stations along the border to ensure that unaccompanied alien children are provided with basic humanitarian assistance such as food, clothing and blankets. The bill would also set new age assessment standards and provide CBP Agents with training on interacting with children who have been through traumatic experiences.

In addition to ensuring basic humanitarian standards for the facilities holding these vulnerable children, this bill provides that child welfare professionals screen children for trafficking and protection risks and takes the burden of child care away from CBP agents, who would be able to better focus on their law enforcement responsibilities.