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Congress Can Help Migrant Children With This Key Fix

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Unread 08.14.19, 11:30 PM
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Congress Can Help Migrant Children With This Key Fix

On 08.14.19 01:25 PM posted by Igor Magalhaes

By now it isirrefutable that there is a crisis at the border. Unfortunately, those who aresuffering the most are the most vulnerable, namely children.

The stories ofchildren being separated from their parents were heartbreaking—as are theaccounts of the brutal journey migrant children must undertake to reach theborder, of fake family units jeopardizing their welfare, and of overcrowded andunderfunded detention centers.

All of thesehorrific occurrences are the result of the broken American asylum system thatCongress refuses to fix.

Morespecifically, their common thread is the Flores settlement.

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

Unfortunately,the Clinton administration succumbed to pressure from activist groups andapproved more lenient administrative practices. Among other things, the government agreedto release unaccompaniedalien children “without unnecessary delay” to a parent, guardian, or adultrelative.

Following that,the most significant change to the Flores settlementcame in 2015 when a federal judge misinterpreted the agreement and broadened itsscope. The decision expanded the Flores settlement to encompassnot only unaccompanied alien children, but also minors apprehended with theirparents.

The judge also—despiteno such requirement in federal law—construed the “without unnecessary delay”provision to mean 20 days.

However, 20days is an arbitrary timeline that is insufficient to review asylum claims,particularly as the asylum system becomes more and more overwhelmed by manyfraudulent claims.

As family unitssought asylum, immigration agencies had two options: They could either separatechildren from their parents or release the whole family unit into the country.

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 immediaterelease has led to a huge increase in familyunits (both real and fake) migrating to the United States, though the vast majority of these migrants—even those whocome from impoverished countries—will not qualify for asylum.

Those seekingto take advantage of American asylum laws are clogging up the system. They arenot only slowing the process of those with legitimate claims, but are alsoputting the children they come with in harm’s way.

These childrenendure a long and dangerousjourney of up tothousands of miles to the southwest border. Along the way, they face toughterrains and unhospitable weather with limited resources to keep them going.

Many of thesechildren die during transit or are subject to exploitation and abuse, includinga large number who become victims of sexual assault by the dangerous Mexicancriminal cartels that smuggle them into the U.S..

Additionally,given the value of having a minor during the asylum process, instances of fake family units have become more common.

There arereports of people seeking to purchase children in Mexico and of “child recyclingrings,” in whichsmuggling networks provide a migrant with an unrelated child, and once theyhave successfully entered the country, that same child is sent back across theborder to repeat this process.

Such practicesenrich smugglers and traffickers while putting the lives of these minors indanger.

Furthermore,this surge of family units is overcrowdingdetention facilities.Without the resources, manpower, or space to properly house and take care ofthe unprecedented number of migrants in custody, children are vulnerable todiseases, abuse, and psychological harm.

If Congress wants to help migrant children, it needs to fix the*Flores*settlement. The arbitrary 20-day limit on detaining alien minors must be extended to allow them to stay with their parents in detention as their asylum claims are reviewed and go through the process.*

Furthermore, asylum claims that are made by illegal border-crossers and not at ports of entry should be summarily denied. Asylum-seekers should be returned to Mexico to wait while their claims are investigated.

Eliminating theimpression that bringing a child to the border guarantees expedited releaseinto the country will reduce the incentive to put a child’s life in danger andprovide relief to the congested immigration system.

The post Congress Can Help Migrant Children With This Key Fix appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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