Legislation Protecting Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Passes Judiciary Committee with Bipartisan Support

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO - Today, Assembly Bill 1140, the Unaccompanied Immigrant Protections Act by Assemblymember Robert Rivas (D-Hollister), unanimously passed the Assembly Committee on Judiciary with bipartisan support. In a time when vulnerable, unaccompanied immigrant children are coming to our country in unprecedented numbers, AB 1140 will ensure that all children housed in state-licensed facilities will be under the jurisdiction of the California Foster Care Ombudsperson’s Office and will thereby receive all of the resources and protections they are entitled to under state law.

“I am grateful to the Judiciary Committee for advancing a bill that is needed to ensure the well-being of our unaccompanied immigrant children who are under state protection,” Asm. Rivas said. “Although immigration is a complex topic, protecting all children in our state foster care system, regardless of their immigration status, is not. We cannot forget that unaccompanied immigrant children are children.”

AB 1140 moves on to the Assembly floor, where a vote is expected in the coming weeks.

“When the federal government takes custody of unaccompanied immigrant children, it is required to hold them in state-licensed facilities,” said Rachel Prandini, a staff attorney from the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, which is a sponsor of AB 1140 .“The state of California is home to many such facilities. This bill clarifies that unaccompanied children are entitled to the same rights and grievance procedures as all other children in out-of-home care in the state. This is the least that California can do to ensure humane treatment of children in immigration custody.”

AB 1140 is sponsored by KIND, Youth Law Center, Legal Services for Children, National Center for Youth Law, Immigrant Legal Resource Center, Immigrant Defense Advocates and the Vera Institute of Justice.

“As counsel representing all children in federal immigration custody, we have seen firsthand how the lack of adequate oversight can compromise the quality of care that unaccompanied children receive,” said Melissa Adamson, an attorney from the National Center for Youth Law. “AB 1140 is a critical step forward in clarifying California's role in protecting the safety and welfare of these vulnerable children.”