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[Congressional Record: November 18, 2002 (Senate)]
[Page S11284-S11296]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []


unaccompanied child protection act

  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. Mr. President, I am disappointed that the bill before 
us does not contain in its entirety the Unaccompanied Child Protection 
Act, bipartisan legislation I introduced at the beginning of this 
Congress and that was included as Title XII of the Lieberman substitute 
to H.R. 5005.
  I am pleased, however, that the measure contains one key component of 
that legislation: the transfer of authority over the care and custody 
of unaccompanied alien children to the Office of Refugee Resettlement 
within the Department of Health and Human Services.
  This is key for two reasons: First, we do not want to burden the 
Secretary of Homeland Security with policy issues unrelated to the 
threat of terrorism. The Department will have a huge and important 
mission when this legislation is done and its attention should be 
focused on that mission.
  Second, the federal government has a special responsibility to 
protect the children in its custody. For too long, the Immigration and 
Naturalization Service, INS, has not lived up to that responsibility. 
The children's provisions in this legislation is an important first 
step in correcting decades of questionable practices with regards to 
children that come under the agency's watch.
  As I mentioned before, this is an important first step in providing 
protection for unaccompanied alien children. I ask my friend from 
Arizona, who is a senior member of the Judiciary Committee and part of 
the leadership on the other side of the aisle, if he would agree to 
work with me next year to further refine the important reforms relating 
to the treatment of unaccompanied alien children.
  Mr. KYL. I thank my friend from California for her question. I know 

[[Page S11296]]

she has worked long and hard on these issues and that it is her work 
and her dedication that is responsible for the inclusion of the 
children's provisions in the homeland security bill.
  I would further say to my friend from California that while 
additional reforms may be warranted, the legislation before us today 
was primarily a structural bill, not a policy bill. That fact prevented 
the consideration of some of the reforms she has championed from being 
included in this legislation.
  I pledged to work with her in the 108th Congress to help fashion 
legislation that could address some of the issues that had to be left 
out of this measure.
  Mrs. FEINSTEIN. I thank the Senator from Arizona. You may be 
interested to know that I first became involved in this issue when I 
heard about a young 15-year old Chinese girl who stood before a U.S. 
immigration court facing deportation proceedings. She had found her way 
to the United States as a stowaway in a container ship captured off of 
Guam, hoping to escape the repression she had experienced in her home 
  Although she had committed no crime, the INS sent her to a Portland 
jail, where she languished for seven months. When the INS brought her 
before an immigration judge, she stood before him confused, not 
understanding the proceedings against her. Tears streamed down her 
face, yet she could not wipe them away because her hands were 
handcuffed and chained to her waist.
  While the young girl eventually received asylum in our country, she 
unnecessarily faced an ordeal no child should bear under our 
immigration system. This young Chinese girl represents only one of 
5,000 foreign-born children who, without parents or legal guardians to 
protect them, are discovered in the United States each year in need of 
  So you see, this issue calls for clearer policy direction from 
Congress. I thank my friend and look forward to working with him in the 
beginning of the 108th Congress.
  Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, the reorganization of our homeland 
security efforts is necessary if we are to achieve a higher level of 
safety for American citizens.
  The bill before us improves our security by combining into a single 
department the federal agencies and programs that today have a role in 
providing homeland security. Those organizations comprise some 170,000 
people. Bringing them together under a single reorganized department 
will enable us to improve coordination of the Government's efforts to 
defend the United States against terrorist attacks.
  By creating the cabinet-level position of Secretary of Homeland 
Security, the bill ensures there will be a leader of this effort, with 
the appropriate authority and responsibility to carry out that mission.
  The creation of a Border and Transportation Security Directorate--
bringing together the Immigration and Naturalization Service from the 
Justice Department, the U.S. Customs Service from the Treasury 
Department, and the newly created Transportation Security 
Administration--will make a single entity responsible for securing our 
border and transportation systems and preventing the entry of 
terrorists into our country.