8 U.S.C. § 1232 - Enhancing efforts to combat the trafficking of children

Cite as8 U.S.C. § 1232

(a) Combating child trafficking at the border and ports of entry of the United States

(1) Policies and procedures

In order to enhance the efforts of the United States to prevent trafficking in persons, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, shall develop policies and procedures to ensure that unaccompanied alien children in the United States are safely repatriated to their country of nationality or of last habitual residence.

(2) Special rules for children from contiguous countries

(A) Determinations

Any unaccompanied alien child who is a national or habitual resident of a country that is contiguous with the United States shall be treated in accordance with subparagraph (B), if the Secretary of Homeland Security determines, on a case-by-case basis, that-

(i) such child has not been a victim of a severe form of trafficking in persons, and there is no credible evidence that such child is at risk of being trafficked upon return to the child's country of nationality or of last habitual residence;

(ii) such child does not have a fear of returning to the child's country of nationality or of last habitual residence owing to a credible fear of persecution; and

(iii) the child is able to make an independent decision to withdraw the child's application for admission to the United States.

(B) Return

An immigration officer who finds an unaccompanied alien child described in subparagraph (A) at a land border or port of entry of the United States and determines that such child is inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) may-

(i) permit such child to withdraw the child's application for admission pursuant to section 235(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ( 8 U.S.C. 1225(a)(4) ); and

(ii) return such child to the child's country of nationality or country of last habitual residence.

(C) Contiguous country agreements

The Secretary of State shall negotiate agreements between the United States and countries contiguous to the United States with respect to the repatriation of children. Such agreements shall be designed to protect children from severe forms of trafficking in persons, and shall, at a minimum, provide that-

(i) no child shall be returned to the child's country of nationality or of last habitual residence unless returned to appropriate employees or officials, including child welfare officials where available, of the accepting country's government;

(ii) no child shall be returned to the child's country of nationality or of last habitual residence outside of reasonable business hours; and

(iii) border personnel of the countries that are parties to such agreements are trained in the terms of such agreements.

(3) Rule for other children

The custody of unaccompanied alien children not described in paragraph (2)(A) who are apprehended at the border of the United States or at a United States port of entry shall be treated in accordance with subsection (b).

(4) Screening

Within 48 hours of the apprehension of a child who is believed to be described in paragraph (2)(A), but in any event prior to returning such child to the child's country of nationality or of last habitual residence, the child shall be screened to determine whether the child meets the criteria listed in paragraph (2)(A). If the child does not meet such criteria, or if no determination can be made within 48 hours of apprehension, the child shall immediately be transferred to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and treated in accordance with subsection (b). Nothing in this paragraph may be construed to preclude an earlier transfer of the child.

(5) Ensuring the safe repatriation of children

(A) Repatriation pilot program

To protect children from trafficking and exploitation, the Secretary of State shall create a pilot program, in conjunction with the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Homeland Security, nongovernmental organizations, and other national and international agencies and experts, to develop and implement best practices to ensure the safe and sustainable repatriation and reintegration of unaccompanied alien children into their country of nationality or of last habitual residence, including placement with their families, legal guardians, or other sponsoring agencies.

(B) Assessment of country conditions

The Secretary of Homeland Security shall consult the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the Trafficking in Persons Report in assessing whether to repatriate an unaccompanied alien child to a particular country.

(C) Report on repatriation of unaccompanied alien children

Not later than 18 months after December 23, 2008, and annually thereafter, the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, with assistance from the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall submit a report to the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives on efforts to improve repatriation programs for unaccompanied alien children. Such report shall include-

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