Statement from Vera Vice President Kica Matos on the Protection of Kids in Immigrant Detention Act

Today, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) introduced the Protection of Kids in Immigrant Detention Act or “PROKID Act,” which would establish, within the Department of Health and Human Services, an Office of the Ombudsperson for Immigrant Children in Government Custody. This impartial, confidential office would ensure that immigrant children are only detained or held in Government custody in the least restrictive setting and help ensure the quick and efficient release of immigrant children from Government detention or custody whenever possible.

“Children in federal immigration custody are particularly vulnerable. We need only turn to recent history of family separation, neglect and mistreatment of children in immigration detention as a reminder of why this legislation is so critical. This effort, led by Sen. Gillibrand, aims to promote transparency, oversight, and accountability in all instances in which the federal government is holding immigrant children, which should only be done in accordance with best child welfare standards and in the least restrictive setting. The PROKID Act also rightfully advocates for the release of immigrant children from Government detention or custody whenever possible.

By institutionalizing an Ombudsperson office that provides oversight, reports to Congress, and engages stakeholders and the implicated agencies, we will create a pathway to hold our government accountable for always ensuring that children are treated with dignity in a way that protects and respects their rights.”

About the Vera Institute of Justice:

The Vera Institute of Justice is a justice reform change agent. Vera produces ideas, analysis, and research that inspire change in the systems people rely upon for safety and justice. Vera collaborates with the communities most impacted by these systems and works in close partnership with government and civic leaders to implement change. Across projects, Vera is committed to explicitly and effectively reducing the burdens of the justice system on people of color and frames all work with an understanding of our country’s history of racial oppression. Vera is currently pursuing core priorities of ending the misuse of jails, transforming conditions of confinement, providing legal services for immigrants, and ensuring that justice systems more effectively serve America’s increasingly diverse communities. Vera has offices in Brooklyn, NY; Washington, DC; New Orleans, and Los Angeles.

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