Protecting Adults With Disabilities At The Border
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Protecting Adults With Disabilities At The Border

Keep Families Together Act Prevents Child Separation, Does Not Account for Adults with Disabilities.

Immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol on June 17 seen at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Getty Images
Immigrants apprehended by Border Patrol on June 17 seen at the Central Processing Center in McAllen, Texas. U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Getty Images
WASHINGTON – Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced the Preventing Family Separation for Immigrants with Disabilities Act, supplementary legislation to the Keep Families Together Act, which will extend family separation prevention protections to all people with intellectual disabilities. Rep. Maloney’s bill would simply ensure that both children and adults with disabilities are not separated from their family caregivers within 100 miles of the border.

“People with disabilities need to be with family – not thrown into a cage somewhere thousands of miles away,” said Rep. Maloney. “The Keep Families Together Act is perfect legislation for shielding innocent children from the Trump Administration, but we also need to make sure we’re looking out for folks with disabilities who may not qualify for that bill’s protections.”

“USICD demands that The Department of Homeland Security follow its responsibilities under Federal law and identify detainees with disabilities, prevent unnecessary and traumatizing separations, and provide the reasonable accommodation under the law for those detained family members with disabilities, including appropriate medical care,” said Isabel Hodge, Executive Director, United States International Council on Disabilities (USCID). “We support Congressman Maloney’s bill to limit the separation of families including those with intellectual disabilities.”

The Preventing Family Separation for Immigrants with Disabilities Act would prevent all people with intellectual disabilities from being separated from their families within 100 miles of the border. Many people with intellectual disabilities rely on family for direct care, including people coming to the United States. These immigrants are at risk of losing learned skills, experiencing more intense trauma and negative behavior, and causing harm to themselves or others. These individuals may also have additional difficulty understanding instruction given by American personnel, experience stress in loud conditions, and experience heightened risk for sexual and physical abuse. These conditions are all ameliorated by the presence of a committed family caregiver.

Rep. Maloney is an original cosponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which would stop the Trump Administration from enforcing its separation policy by prohibiting the removal of a child from their parents or legal guardians within 100 miles of the border and any other ports of entry. He’s also an original cosponsor of the HELP Separated Children Act, which would ensure the humane treatment of children already separated from their families by immigration enforcement authorities. The legislation would guarantee parents of these children have access to information on their children, the ability to stay in contact, and the right to say goodbye to their children before being separated.

Rep. Maloney is also a member of the Bipartisan Disabilities Caucus and led the fight to protect people with disabilities during deliberation on the House version of the 2018 Farm Bill.

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