U.S. bishops are urging Congress to address the rising threat of human trafficking faced by unaccompanied migrant children within the United States, as shared by the Catholic News Agency. Recent reports highlight an alarming increase in exploitative labor conditions and other harmful situations affecting these vulnerable children.
“Exploitation in its various forms is most likely to occur when an individual is isolated from support or confronted by systemic barriers in accessing assistance.” – Bishop Mark Seitz
Comprehensive solutions proposed
To combat this pressing issue, the bishops propose ten key measures in their letter. These include strengthening the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) with increased funding, expanded scope, and advanced trafficking prevention training. They call for Congress to empower the ORR to intervene in cases where a child’s safety is at risk and suggest creating a dedicated position focused on tracking and preventing child trafficking.
Additionally, the bishops advocate for an independent review board of nonprofits to advise the government on protecting migrant children. They emphasize the passage of the Vulnerable Immigrant Youth Act, aiming to expedite the legal status of especially vulnerable migrant children, currently facing delays within the employment-based migrant visa backlog. This legislation would align their status with other humanitarian populations in U.S. immigration law, reducing the potential for exploitation and ensuring more timely access to legal residency.
With this law, migrant children “would be treated more like other humanitarian populations within U.S. immigration law […] and would ensure more timely access to legal residency for those deemed eligible, thereby reducing the potential for exploitation.”
A system to protect the most vulnerable
In urging Congress to adopt these measures, the U.S. bishops seek to create a comprehensive framework that safeguards unaccompanied migrant children, addressing the immediate risks they face and promoting a more just and humane immigration system.
We agree with the need for safe immigration and the protection of migrant children from exploitation in the U.S. Join us in calling on lawmakers to end their involvement in the exploitation of children in the United States!