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S. 1445 (116th): Central America Reform and Enforcement Act

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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 May 14, 2019.

Central America Reform and Enforcement Act

This bill establishes programs to address the humanitarian crisis in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (the Northern Triangle countries) and to handle asylum-seekers from those countries.

The Department of State shall report to Congress a five-year interagency strategy to address the factors driving migration from Central America.

The bill establishes various new immigration-related penalties, such as making it unlawful to knowingly destroy any government-deployed border-control device (e.g., fence or camera).

The State Department shall work to expand the capacity of other countries to provide asylum.

The State Department shall establish at least four Designated Application Processing Centers in the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico to adjudicate asylum applications and admit qualified aliens from the Northern Triangle countries as refugees.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shall provide certain assessments and health care services to unaccompanied alien children.

The rights of a parent or guardian over an unaccompanied alien child may be terminated only pursuant to a court order.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement shall conduct certain background checks on prospective sponsors of an unaccompanied alien child.

To receive certain funding, a local educational agency must ensure that unaccompanied alien children are served.

An unaccompanied alien child shall be appointed free counsel in immigration proceedings.

The Department of Justice shall increase the number of immigration judges and Board of Immigration Appeals staff attorneys.

The Department of Homeland Security, HHS, and the State Department shall develop a process for repatriating unaccompanied children to their country of origin. This process must require a determination of the child's best interests.