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H.R. 495: Protection of Children Act of 2017

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Jan 12, 2017.


Protection of Children Act of 2017

This bill amends the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 to eliminate the special repatriation requirements for unaccompanied alien children (UAC) who are nationals or residents of a country contiguous to the United States. (The same removal requirements are applied to all UACs who are not victims of a severe form of trafficking in persons and who do not have a fear of returning to their country of nationality or last habitual residence.)

An immigration officer who finds an inadmissible UAC at a land border or port of entry shall return the child to his or her country of nationality or of last habitual residence. (Currently such authority is discretionary.)

The Department of State is authorized to negotiate agreements between the United States and other countries for the repatriation of children. (Under current law, State is required to negotiate agreements between the United States and countries contiguous to the United States for the repatriation of children.)

An unaccompanied child who is not a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons and who does not have a fear of returning to his or her country of nationality or last habitual residence but who is:

in removal proceedings, shall have a hearing before an immigration judge within 14 days; in federal custody, shall be transferred to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) custody within 30 days; and in HHS or Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody, shall have access to legal counsel at no cost to the government. HHS, before placing a child with an individual, shall provide DHS with the individual's name, Social Security number, date of birth, residence location, and immigration status, if known.

DHS shall investigate the immigration status of the individual with whom the child is placed and initiate removal proceedings if that individual is unlawfully present in the United States.

Such requirements are applied to any unauthorized child apprehended on or after June 15, 2012.

The Immigration and Nationality Act is amended with respect to: (1) special immigrant juvenile status, and (2) jurisdiction of asylum applications.