The Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) took steps Tuesday (April 16) to address the wave of primarily Central American migrant families arriving at the United States-Mexico border, CNN reports. The group’s CBP Families and Children Custody Panel sent a list of “emergency action” item recommendations to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), including the suggestion to establish several regional processing centers along the border. That way, according to CNN, families will have shelter and their care can be shifted away from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
Former Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrator and council committee chair Karen Tandy held a public call about HSAC’s recommendations. “The view of the panel is that thousands of migrant children and [the] national security of our nation are in danger,” she explained, per CNN. “They [CBP] have cannibalized their special units, taking away from training, horse patrol and other special units to provide care.”
While the report points out the costs associated with the proposed plan, the committee stresses the critical nature of the situation. “We recognize that this may require a supplemental of several billions of dollars for construction and administrative costs,” the report reads, “but it is the only way to ensure treatment of migrant children that conforms to our values.”
A full report is expected from the HSAC in May, however the group felt it was necessary to submit the “Final Emergency Interim Report on CBP Families and Children Care Panel” so that action can be taken immediately. Per CNN:
The council also made a number of recommendations for congressional action, including modifying asylum procedures, at least temporarily, so that a hearing and decision can be provided to family members within 20 or 30 days.
The council also recommended a “roll back” of the Flores decision by “exempting children accompanied by a parent or relative, who is acting as the guardian of the child.”
DHS also should be given discretion to detain a close relative with a non-parent family member when this is in the best interest of the child, the council found.
Tandy believes acting on these recommendations will result in “a sharp decline in the crisis at the border.” DHS acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan released a statement on Tuesday, calling the action items “reasonable.”
“These recommendations are essential to secure our border and for the safety and welfare of children living in Central America and elsewhere who will continue to make this dangerous trek north,” McAleenan said.