U.S. Senators from AZ introduce CREST ACT addressing border cris - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

U.S. Senators from AZ introduce CREST ACT addressing border crisis

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The CREST or Children Returning on an Expedited and Safe Timeline Act was recently introduced by both Arizona U.S. Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

According to a recent release Senator McCain's office, the act addresses the growing humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border as thousands of undocumented children cross illegally into the U.S.

"This legislation attends to the urgent humanitarian crisis on the border today, while also addressing with the root of the problem, deterring future flows of unaccompanied children making the long and dangerous journey north," said Senator John McCain.

"While President Obama should be doing more to halt the flow of unaccompanied minors crossing the border, Congress also need to step up," said Senator Jeff Flake.

U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire), Lindsay Graham (South Carolina) and Jim Inhofe (Oklahoma) also support this new legislation.

The following is a summary of the Act's provisions:

CREST SUMMARY

Amends the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA) to increase repatriation of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) from non-contiguous countries.

The CREST Act requires UACs from non-contiguous countries be given the same treatment as those from Mexico and Canada with respect to the option of voluntarily returning to their own country.

In addition, keeping in place the existing screenings, the CREST Act reforms the TVPA to require expedited removal of all undocumented immigrants that are stopped at the border attempting to enter the United States illegally, allowing law enforcement to return them to their home countries within days as opposed months or years.

Requires mandatory detention of UAC until their cases are fully adjudicated.

This Act requires UAC to be under the custody of CBP or HHS until they are repatriated or their immigration cases have arrived at an outcome that allows them to remain in the U.S. Exceptions are made for non-federal custody in cases where the UAC is found to be a victim of trafficking, has special needs, or severe physical or mental health needs. In those cases, they can be released to a biological parent that is legally present in the U.S., has submitted to a biometric criminal history check, is willing to face fines for a failure to appear in immigration court, and a safety and suitability study has been completed.

Increases the number of immigration judges to hear cases and create a separate immigration docket to hear the cases of juveniles.

The CREST Act authorizes the hiring of 100 temporary immigration judges, 150 new immigration litigation attorneys in the ICE Field of Legal Operations, and 100 new asylum offices to reduce immigration case backlogs.

The Act prioritizes the swift resolution of cases involving unaccompanied minor children by requiring the creation of a separate juvenile docket in every immigration court in the United States and requiring the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security to bring a resolution to immigration cases, from the issuance of a notice to appear through the exhaustion of appeals, within thirty days.

Increases the number of refugee applications by up to 5,000 for each of El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.

This CREST Act requires the administration to carry out in-country processing of refugee applications in these countries and provides funding for the Refugee, Asylum, and International Operations at USCIS to fulfill these requirements.

Conditions foreign aid on countries’ efforts to secure their borders.

This Act requires the President to certify that Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador are doing everything they can to prevent the illegal migration of unaccompanied minors or risk losing foreign aid assistance and assist in the repatriation of their citizens.

Increase penalties for human smuggling.

The CREST Act increases penalties for those engaging in human smuggling, including the smuggling of unaccompanied minors.

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