Border-law loopholes are incentivizing migrants to use other people’s children as human shields to get themselves into the United States, according to the New York Times.
The admission is buried in a New York Times article decrying the countermeasure by the Department of Homeland Security, which is now housing roughly 700 border-crossing children in different facilities from the people who claim to be their parents. The New York Times admitted:
Protecting children at the border is complicated because there have, indeed, been instances of fraud …
Some migrants have admitted they brought their children not only to remove them from danger in such places as Central America and Africa, but because they believed it would cause the authorities to release them from custody sooner.
Others have admitted to posing falsely with children who are not their own, and Border Patrol officials say that such instances of fraud are increasing.
The loophole was created by the 1997 “Flores Settlement” which says that officials must quickly release migrants with children once they ask the courts for asylum to stay in the United States, even if their requests are unlikely to succeed. The Flores loophole is one of several federal laws which force border officials to “catch and release” waves of economic migrants.
The loopholes have been used by so many migrants since 2011 that almost 700,000 asylum cases are pending in the immigration courts, and the cases take an average of two years to resolve. The delays are a boon for the smugglers and the migrants because it means the migrants get work permits for jobs, so allowing them to work and pay the smugglers’ fees.
The delays are also good for businesses in many Democratic cities, which have gained an infusion of cheap labor to fill the blue-collar service-class jobs which support upper-income professionals. So far, Democratic legislators have opposed efforts by President Donald Trump to close the border law loopholes.
The wave of migrants is bad for American employees because it floods the labor market and drives down wages. But the combination of Trump’s stronger enforcement push and the growing economy is delivering higher wages and overtime to many employees, including black bakers in Chicago, Latino restaurant workers in Monterey, Calif., disabled people in Missouri, high-schoolers, the construction industry, Superbowl workers, the garment industry, and workers employed at small businesses.
A statement from DHS press secretary Tyler Houlton said the border checks of adults and children are needed to protect migrant children and are not intended to deter migrants’ use the Flores loophole:
DHS does not currently have a policy of separating families at the border for deterrence purposes. As required by law, DHS must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders and occasionally this results in separating children from an adult they are traveling with if we cannot ascertain the parental relationship or if we think the child is otherwise in danger.
Unfortunately, we have seen many instances where human traffickers have used children to cross the border to gain illegal entry to our country as they know they are unlikely to be detained. This is one of the very loopholes we would like to see Congress end in order to gain operational control of our border.
The New York Times‘ article described the efforts by progressive groups to widen the Flores Settlement loophole and to shut down the DHS countermeasure.
For months, members of Congress have been demanding answers about how many families are being separated as they are processed at stations along the southwest border, in part because the Trump administration has in the past said it was considering taking children from their parents as a way to deter migrants from coming here.
The political push is accompanied by an ACLU lawsuit:
On Feb. 20, a young woman named Mirian arrived at the Texas border carrying her 18-month-old son. They had fled their home in Honduras through a cloud of tear gas, she told border agents, and needed protection from the political violence there.
She had hoped she and her son would find refuge together. Instead, the agents ordered her to place her son in the back seat of a government vehicle, she said later in a sworn declaration to a federal court. They both cried as the boy was driven away.
Mirian has pinballed across Texas, held at various times in three other detention centers. She is part of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of many immigrant parents seeking to prohibit family separations at the border.
Pro-migration groups denounced the DHS policy. Frank Sharry, the director of America’s Voice, said in a statement:
Separating children from parents seeking asylum is counter to everything America stands for. Our country has long taken pride in our image as a beacon of hope and our role as a world leader in offering refuge to those fleeing persecution and violence. Now, as a matter of taxpayer funded policy, our government is systematically separating toddlers and infants from the arms of their parents in a disgusting effort to slam the door shut and take a wrecking ball to the Statue of Liberty.
Trump recently directed officials at the DHS, and related agencies to suggest measures that can reduce the loopholes in border law which ensure the “catch and release” policies.
Trump wants new agency options to block economic migrants b/c Congress/estb. won't stop the cross-border inflow of cheap labor. Turns out, he's got many tools to adjust migrants' cost/benefit calculations: https://t.co/tlD2uwhMKK
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) April 12, 2018
Read the New York Times article here.