A group of U.S. senators have introduced the Children Returning on an Expedited and Safe Timeline Act (CREST Act).
The measure addresses the mounting humanitarian crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border where tens of thousands of unaccompanied children (UAC) are being apprehended as they illegally cross into the United States. The bill is sponsored by U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz.; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.
The CREST Act requires UAC from non-contiguous countries be given the same treatment as those from Mexico and Canada with respect to the option of voluntarily returning to their own country, according to the senators.
In addition, keeping in place the existing screenings, the CREST Act reforms the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act (TVPA) to require expedited removal of all undocumented immigrants who are stopped at the border attempting to enter the United States illegally. This, the senators content, will allow law enforcement to return them to their home countries within days as opposed months or years.
“This legislation attends to the urgent humanitarian crisis on the border today while also addressing with the root of the problem, deterring future flows of unaccompanied children making the long and dangerous journey north,” McCain said in a statement. “This crisis will continue until the parents who paid thousands of dollars to smuggle their children north to the United States see plane-loads of them landing back at home – their money wasted.”