The Protection of Kids in Detention Act, or PROKID Act, introduced by Senators Gillibrand and Cortez Masto in the Senate and Representative Jayapal in the House, would provide a critical layer of oversight and ensure transparency, protection, and accountability for all immigrant children in any type of government custody. This legislation would create a permanent Office of the Ombudsman within the Department of Human and Health Services to act as an advocate, subject-matter expert, and independent authority responsible for ensuring that the rights afforded to children by the Flores Settlement Agreement, the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), and other relevant statutes are properly recognized, applied, and enforced.
LIRS believes the best interest of children must come first and the PROKID Act would enshrine in law basic child welfare principles. Specifically, PROKID will:
- Ensure that immigrant children are only held in government custody in the least restrictive setting;
- Empower the Ombudsperson to advocate for the quick, safe, and efficient release of immigrant children from government custody whenever possible, including the right to review placement decisions;
- Create an expert advisory committee made of up immigration law and child protection specialists to report on trends from the field and advise on best practices;
- Mandate the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Homeland Security to facilitate a close working relationship and ensure visibility, real-time communication, and influence policy and procedures for those children in temporary DHS custody.
With its provisions rooted firmly in best practices and interagency coordination, the PROKID Act is an important step towards guaranteeing what any parent would want – the safety and well-being of their children. Our government must act to ensure children do not remain held in its custody, and are released to their U.S.-based sponsors quickly and safely.
Send a message to your legislators today and ask them to support the PROKID Act!