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United States : New Cornyn, Cruz, Hurd, Gonzalez Bill Would Help Border Counties Identify Missing Migrants.

U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) and U.S. Congressmen Will Hurd (TX-23) and Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15) today introduced the Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act of 2018, a bill to help local jurisdictions improve the recording and reporting of missing persons and unidentified remains found along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Our border communities have experienced the very real consequences of the treacherous journey travelled by many seeking to come to this country, said Sen. Cornyn. My hope is that this bill will help local communities identify those who have gone missing, process unidentified remains, and invest in forensic equipment to provide closure to families in the United States and abroad.

Communities in Texas and all along our southern border have experienced firsthand the human tragedy of illegal immigration, Sen. Cruz said. I am proud to join with my colleagues to ensure our local law enforcement officials are equipped with the forensic equipment and resources they need to identify remains found on the border, and solve cases of missing persons.

Until we address the root causes of mass migration flows from Central America, individuals will continue to make the perilous journey north, said Congressman Hurd, who represents more of the U.S.-Mexico border than any other Member of Congress. This bipartisan bill helps prevent tragic deaths along the border by expanding CBPs rescue and apprehension capabilities. In addition, it mitigates the burdens placed on state and local governments to identify perished individuals with the dignity they deserve. I am proud to join my fellow Texans Rep. Gonzalez and Sen. Cornyn in providing a solution for this very real challenge faced by law enforcement agencies across my district.

Our nation has a chance to put more resources into helping identify the remains of missing persons, and to bring closure to families who know not whether to grieve, or continue the search, Congressman Gonzalez said. This piece of legislation would provide much-needed resources directed at finding answers for families across the U.S. Southwest Border. Passing this bill will help our ranchers and farmers, our counties, and our local sheriffs. I thank Congressman Hurd and Senator Cornyn for coming together to craft this bipartisan and bicameral piece of legislation.

The Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains Act of 2018:

expands eligibility to apply for grants under Jennifers Law to state and local governments, accredited government-funded CODIS forensic laboratories, medical examiners, accredited publicly-funded toxicology, crime, and university forensic anthropology center laboratories, and non-profit organizations that work with state and county forensic offices for entry of data into CODIS of NamUS

authorizes use of grant funds to cover costs

incurred since FY17 for transportation, processing, identification, and reporting of missing persons and unidentified remains

of hiring additional DNA case analysts and technicians, fingerprint examiners, and forensic odontologists and anthropologists needed to support identification efforts

of purchasing state-of-the-art forensic and DNA-typing and analytical equipment

adds privacy protections for biological family reference samples uploaded into CODIS (Combined DNA Index System) by precluding disclosure of such information to Federal or state law enforcement agencies for law enforcement purposes

expands CBPs legal authority to purchase and deployment of up to 170 self-powering 9-1-1 cellular relay rescue beacons to mitigate migrant deaths on the southern border

requires reporting to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) and the National and Missing Unidentified Persons System (NamUS) regarding missing persons and deceased individuals found in each applicants jurisdiction

adds reporting requirements for the NamUS Program regarding the number of unidentified person cases, anthropology cases, suspected border crossing cases, and associations made

adds reporting requirements for CBP and GAO on unidentified remains and use of rescue beacons

Endorsements: National Criminal Justice Association; South Texans Property Rights Association; League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC); Texas Border Coalition; Church World Service; Colibri Center for Human Rights; Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd, U.S. Provinces; Franciscan Action Network; Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers); Hope Border Institute; Kino Border Initiative; La Frontera Ministries International, Inc.; Latin America Working Group (LAWG); Leadership Conference of Women Religious; National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd; National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights; Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Justice Team; South Texas Human Rights Center; Southern Border Communities Coalition; Washington Office on Latin America.

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Publication:Mena Report
Date:Dec 7, 2018
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