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The GOP Border Bill Would Deport Families of Child Migrants

As the battle over the border rages in Congress, many Republicans are pushing to advance a bill that would revive one of the Trump era’s harshest policies: deporting family members in the US who step forward to take in unaccompanied migrant children.

But many advocates say that ICE’s renewed involvement would have nothing to do with child welfare. “It’s purely punitive,” says Melanie Nezer, vice president of advocacy with the Women’s Refugee Commission. HHS’s refugee office was specifically asked to care for unaccompanied kids, she pointed out, so that their wellbeing would be overseen by an agency without a law enforcement mandate. In recent months, HHS has come under fire for not properly vetting sponsors and often releasing children to exploitative labor settings. But adding immigration authorities to the mix, Nezer argues, would only make things worse. A desperate parent might try to find someone—anyone—who has legal status to sponsor a child, even if that’s a distant relative or a stranger.