Congressman Cleaver Cosponsors Legislation to Address Humanitarian Crisis at Southern Border

Jul 12, 2019
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.) – This week, Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II (D-MO) became an original cosponsor of the Strategic and Humane Southern Border Migrant Response Act, a bill introduced by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS). The legislation directs the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to take a more humanitarian, strategic approach to addressing conditions for migrant families and unaccompanied children seeking asylum while also combatting human smugglers and trafficking operations targeting Central American children and families.

“What is occurring on our southern border should make every American hang their head in shame,” said Congressman Cleaver. “Children are being traumatized, families are being separated, and human beings fleeing some of the most brutal violence and poverty in the world are being held in conditions not fit for the cruelest of criminals, let alone individuals simply seeking a better life for their families. If we are to continue our self-righteous proclamations of ‘American values,’ it must begin with treating all people with the compassion and human dignity all human beings deserve.”

“I want to thank Chairman Thompson for listening to the members of our Homeland Security Committee and introducing this bill that will address the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding at our border in a humane and thoughtful way,” said Congressman Cleaver. “The legislation will ensure that policies being executed at the border are effectively managing the influx of people seeking asylum, while also maintaining the American values we claim to hold so dearly. It will immediately raise the standards in which migrants are being housed and treated, and will guarantee fair and fast processing of asylum applications.”

Some of the provisions included in the Strategic and Humane Southern Border Migrant Response Act include:

• Prohibiting the systematic separation of a child from a family member. 

• Establishing minimum critical humanitarian conditions for short-term detention. 

• Terminating the Remain in Mexico and metering policies at the border that has put asylum seekers and their children in danger. 

• Restoring the successful Family Case Management Program. 

• Requiring the President to issue a strategic response plan within 90 days that would assure timely and fair processing of asylees and humanitarian care for people in CBP custody. 

• Establishing a DHS Joint Task Force to efficiently carry out the response plan.

• Requiring that Members of Congress be allowed to enter facilities where asylees are detained without prior notification. 

• Authorizing the DHS Office of Inspector General, Comptroller General, and Members of Congress to photograph conditions in facilities where asylees are detained. 

Representative Cleaver has been diligent in supporting legislation that would protect individuals seeking asylum or a pathway to American citizenship. Cleaver is currently a cosponsor of H.R. 532, the Alternatives to Detention Act of 2019, which requires DHS to use alternatives to detention for vulnerable immigrant populations. The bill would allow families to wait in community-based settings while having regular check-ins with caseworkers. Cleaver is also a cosponsor of H.R. 2415, the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act, introduced by Reps. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Adam Smith (D-WA), which would provide significantly stricter standards for facilities at which individuals in the custody of DHS are detained. In addition to legislation that would protect asylum seekers, Cleaver has long been an advocate for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. In the 116th Congress, Cleaver was an original cosponsor of H.R. 6, the Dream and Promise Act, which would protect DACA recipients from deportation and create a pathway to citizenship for more than 2 million individuals.

“Since its inception, the United States of America has never been perfect,” said Congressman Cleaver. “The beauty of the American tale is that when confronted with blatant injustice, the American people band together and respond with empathy while working to right an irrefutable wrong. Whether that’s through voting, advocating, protesting, or marching, time and time again we find a way to mend our flaws and provide light where there was once darkness. This is unquestionably one of those moments, and we cannot rest until we’ve proven to ourselves and to the world that ‘American values’ are more than mere words, but a set of principles by which we all adhere to.”

Emanuel Cleaver, II is the U.S. Representative for Missouri's Fifth Congressional District, which includes Kansas City, Independence, Lee's Summit, Raytown, Grandview, Sugar Creek, Blue Springs, Grain Valley, Oak Grove, North Kansas City, Gladstone, Claycomo, and all of Ray, Lafayette, and Saline Counties. He is a member of the exclusive House Financial Services Committee; Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Development, and Monetary Policy; member of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress; member of the Committee on Homeland Security; and a Senior Whip of the Democratic Caucus. For more information, please contact Matthew Helfant at 202-225-4535 or A high-resolution photo of Congressman Cleaver can be found here.