The deaths of two children while being held in detention facilities in southern New Mexico has sparked the push for a new state law.
The bill’s sponsors say New Mexico is facing a humanitarian crisis at our border with Mexico as thousands of people fleeing from South and Central American countries head to the U.S. seeking asylum.
The bill’s sponsors want the state to step up to help protect refugee children and their families.
“This is us addressing not only the issues facing those crossing the border, but this addresses systemic issues we’re facing in terms of immigration,” said Rep. Angelica Rubio, (D) Las Cruces.
House Bill 625 states it’s unlawful to separate a refugee child from their parents without a court order, as well as making it unlawful if a child’s basic needs are not met during their time in a detention facility that results in neglect or even death.
The bill would give the Attorney General power in prosecuting violations against child refugees. Then if a person, government agency or detention facility is found guilty, they would face civil penalties.
Rep. Rubio says she wants to protect families seeking asylum.
“I don’t want to normalize the deaths of two children,” said Rep. Rubio. “This legislation will hopefully provide us an opportunity to have real conversations about the turning point that we’re in as a country to really, truly and genuinely decide what kind of country we want to live in.”
The bill was inspired after a 7 and 8-year-old refugee boy and girl died while they were in detention facilities in New Mexico last December.
This bill is expected to ignite a heated debate. It’s expected that the opposition will raise questions if refugees deserve to have a court hearing and if taxpayers should be the ones to foot the bill.
According to its fiscal impact report, the bill could run into issues because the federal government could see it as a violation of federal laws, and make it more difficult for the feds to do their jobs at the southern border.