(SACRAMENTO) – Assemblymember V. Manuel Pérez praised today’s announcement by the Legislature and Governor to provide legal services to the unaccompanied minors arriving in California from Central America.
“I’m very pleased by it,” said Pérez. “This proposal embodies the values in my resolution HR 51, that these children deserve our protection and care. It also builds off of discussions and ideas that we initiated during our trips to Central America and Mexico. It is clear that in the absence of federal action on immigration, it is up to states to take a stand, and I’m proud of California for leading on this issue.”
The proposed legislation, which will be in print tomorrow, provides $3 million to qualified non-profits to provide legal services for the unaccompanied minors to ensure they receive fair and adequate representation. It also clarifies the jurisdiction of the state court to make findings necessary to enable the federal government to grant the minors special immigrant juvenile status, a federal status that allows for an expedited naturalization process.
Pérez is the author of House Resolution 51 (HR 51), which makes an affirmative statement that Californians have a civic responsibility toward the immigrants seeking refuge in the United States and to ensure that they are afforded due process and protection under the law. It also makes a number of declarations, calling for state and federal efforts to promote stability, economic development, education, and the rule of law in these sending countries as a means to improve public safety and curtail mass migration. The resolution is pending on the Assembly Floor.
Since October 2013, more than 52,000 children traveling from Central America have been apprehended at the Mexico-United States border. It is anticipated that a total of 90,000 children will be detained at the border by the end of September of 2014.
In July, Pérez travelled with five other legislators to the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Panama, where they discussed immigration, among a number of issues. Following that, Pérez was in Mexico City with Governor Brown and other legislators on a trade and investment mission, also discussing immigration policy and border infrastructure. Pérez has also toured border patrol facilities in Imperial County where many of the displaced families were held when they were re-routed from Murrieta after federal transports were blocked by protestors.