Unaccompanied Alien Children: Current Law Governing Removal from the United States and Selected Legislative Proposals

Unaccompanied Alien Children: Current Law Governing Removal from the United States and Selected Legislative Proposals

"Recent reports about the increasing number of alien minors apprehended at the U.S. border without a parent or guardian sparked heightened attention on the treatment of “unaccompanied alien children” (UACs) under federal immigration law. In recent weeks, several legislative proposals have been introduced that variously address UACs, including by modifying current laws governing their removal from the United States and their eligibility for asylum and other types of relief from removal.

This memorandum provides a brief overview of current law governing the removal of UACs from the United States and recent legislative proposals that would modify this removal process. It begins by providing a brief overview of two of the most commonly used processes for removing non-UACs from the United States, and then discusses the specific legal requirements governing the removal of UACs from the country. It concludes with a chart comparing current law with three legislative proposals introduced in recent weeks that would make significant modifications to the treatment of UACs under federal immigration law. These proposals are: (1) H.R.5230, the supplemental appropriations bill for FY2014, introduced by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, which was introduced on July 29, 2014; (2) S.2619, the Children Returning on an Expedited and Safe Timeline (CREST) Act,
introduced by Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake on July 17, 2014; and (3) H.R.5137, the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2014, introduced by Representative Jason Chaffetz and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte on July 17, 2014." - CRS, July 30, 2014.