Sen. Al Franken introduced legislation Tuesday to ensure that the children of undocumented workers caught up in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids are not left abandoned. In a press release about the bill, Franken and fellow sponsor Sen. Herb Kohl of Wisconsin, offered several stories from Minnesota raids where children were left to fend for themselves – at times for a week or more – after their parents were arrested.
“One second-grader in Worthington came home that night to find his two-year old brother alone and his mother and father missing,” the senators wrote. “For the next week, the second-grader stayed home to care for his brother while his grandmother traveled to Worthington to meet them.”
Franken said that those children are often U.S. citizens and deserve to be looked after.
“Four million U.S. citizen children in our country have at least one undocumented immigrant parent,” said Franken. “Forty-thousand of those children live in Minnesota. They should not have to live in fear that one day their parents will simply not come home. They deserve much better than being abandoned without explanation.”
The HELP Separated Children Act would beef up a response system for state agencies in the event of a raid, to allow nonprofits to locate at-risk children, to give detainees confidential ways to communicate and make arrangements for their children and to ban the use of children’s testimony in ICE interrogations. It also directs ICE to look out for the best interests of children.