Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Fix the Flores Agreement to Protect Alien Children

            The liberty principle for this Freedom Friday concerns how to solve the crisis at the southern border of the United States and stop the exploitation and/or abuse of children. The border problem has reached the point that no one can deny that there is a crisis, but Democrats and other liberals in Congress continue to drag their feet in solving it while children continue to suffer from adult decisions. 

Everyone dislikes the idea of children suffering for any reason, and alien children are suffering every day as adults seek to enter the United States. We hear many stories of children being separated from their parents, of the difficult journey on which children are taken to reach the U.S. border, and of the horribly crowded conditions at the detention centers. We have heard much about children being kept in “cages” by authorities. However, we do not hear much about children being rented, purchased, kidnapped, exploited, and/or abused for people to create fake families to ensure access to the United States.

Igor C. Magalhaes, an immigration legislative fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, published an article titled “Congress Can Help Migrant Children with This Key Fix” at The Daily Signal. He suggests some simple fixes to solve the border crisis while our do-nothing Congress continues to cause problems for children by refusing to fix the “broken American asylum system.”

What is this so-called fix that Magalhaes is discussing? He says that the “common thread” between all the problems faced by the alien children is the Flores settlement.

The Flores settlement has its roots in legal battles over the government’s handling of unaccompanied alien children dating back to the mid-1980s. In 1992, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the government’s procedures dealing with unaccompanied alien children in Reno v. Flores.

Unfortunately, the Clinton administration succumbed to pressure from activist groups and approved more lenient administrative practices. Among other things, the government agreed to release unaccompanied alien children “without unnecessary delay” to a parent, guardian, or adult relative.

            In 2015 a rogue judge broadened the scope of the agreement. He expanded the agreement to mean all minors – not just the unaccompanied minors but also any “minors apprehended with their parents.” The judge decided on his own authority to determine that “without unnecessary delay” meant no longer than 20 days. This limit of “20 days is an arbitrary timeline that is insufficient to review asylum claims, particularly as the asylum system becomes more and more overwhelmed by many fraudulent claims.” As a result, the immigration agencies had two options when dealing with family units seeking asylum: separate the children from the parents or allow the entire family into the United States.

The public blowback to family separation eventually resulted in its termination, leading to the practice of “catch and release” for foreign nationals with children. Many of those aliens who are released simply disappear and never show up for their immigration hearings.

Consequently, the notion that entering the country with a child will result in an immediate release has led to a huge increase in family units (both real and fake) migrating to the United States, though the vast majority of these migrants – even those who come from impoverished countries – will not qualify for asylum.

Those seeking to take advantage of American asylum laws are clogging up the system. They are not only slowing the process of those with legitimate claims, but [they] are also putting the children they come with in harm’s way.

Magalhaes has some simple solutions that could quickly bring the crisis under control. He says that Congress needs to fix the Flores agreement if they really want to help migrant children. The first fix would be the elimination of the “arbitrary 20-day limit on detaining alien minors.” Without this illogical limit, children could be detained with their parents as the family’s “asylum claims are reviewed and go through the process.”

The second fix would be to deny asylum claims for all aliens who cross the border illegally or cross at points other than ports of entry. All people seeking asylum should wait in Mexico for their claims to be investigated and settled.

Magalhaes makes the following comment: “Eliminating the impression that bringing a child to the border guarantees expedited release into the country will reduce the incentive to put a child’s life in danger and provide relief to the congested immigration system.” It is a long sentence, but it contains common sense. If we eliminate the motivation to bring a child or children, we will eliminate the exploitation and/or abuse of many children.

Anyone who truly cares about children’s lives, health and safety will support fixing the Flores decision in order to bless thousands, possibly millions, of alien children. Fewer children will be taken on the thousand-mile journey across harsh country to reach the border. Fewer children will be exploited and abused by people attempting to enter our nation illegally. Fewer children will be separated from their parents or detained in crowded immigration detention facilities. Fixing the Flores agreement is the act of doing simple things that will bring about great differences in the lives of thousands of children. Let’s do it for the children!

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