‘Poorly Written’ Human Trafficking Law, Court Cases Are Roots of Border Crisis, Says DHS

Border Patrol officers, top, look as a group of Mexican migrants prepare to jump the borde
AP File Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza

A poorly written law aimed initially at preventing human trafficking of children and longstanding court precedent are at the center of the humanitarian crisis along the U.S. southern border, officials in the federal government argued repeatedly in recent weeks.

Department of Homeland Security officials cite a 2008 human trafficking law pushed by Democrats and signed President George W. Bush in the final weeks of his administration in addition to the 20-year-old Flores settlement, creating powerful magnets for minors and family units to the southwestern border.

“This humanitarian crisis is driven by court rulings and poorly written laws that incentivize the smuggling of illegal immigrants under the age of 18. Funding the border wall, amending the TVPRA, and ending the Flores Settlement Agreement will put smugglers and traffickers out of business and protect vulnerable populations,” DHS Spokeswoman Katie Waldman said in a written statement to Breitbart News.

DHS chart comparing 2000 migration data to 2018

DHS chart comparing 2000 migration data to 2018

In 2008, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pushed the Trafficking Victims Protections Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) that resulted in near automatic admission to the U.S. for all illegal migrants under the age of 18, according to sources in DHS. It accomplished this by mandating that all Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) upon arrival at the border be turned over to the Department of Health and Human Services. The law further requires those UACs be released into the U.S. interior as soon as practicable and turned over to a sponsor. That sponsor is generally a parent or relative who is frequently an illegal immigrant themselves.

“As a result, in just a few years, CBP has seen a sizeable increase in the number of UACs illegally entering the country,” DHS officials reported. “In 2010, Border Patrol apprehended 18,622 UACs. In 2018, Border Patrol apprehended 50,036 UACs—i.e. an increase of 169% in just 8 years.”

Information provided by DHS shows that removal of non-Mexican UACs “almost never happens.”

“This loophole encourages parents to send their children alone on a dangerous journey to the United States, often at the hands of unscrupulous human traffickers,” officials explained.

DHS reports that 31 percent of women and 17 percent of men are sexually assaulted during their trek from their country of origin to the U.S. An overwhelming majority, 68 percent, experience some form of violence during their trip to the U.S.

Mexican and U.S. authorities worked out an alternative solution for Mexican minors who cross the border illegally. The agreement allows for the withdrawal of an application for admission. This alternative is “unfairly not available to our other partners in the region,” officials stated.

Then, there is the matter from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit known as the Flores Settlement. Here, and in other court rulings since then, the government is required to release family units after 20 days — a rule that forces release before an immigration proceeding can be completed. Migrants have learned that their stay in U.S. federal detention will be short-lived and “is essentially a waiting stop before they receive a bus ticket to their chosen U.S. city,” DHS officials stated.

As a result, Border Patrol agents witnessed a 620 percent increase in the number of family units apprehended between ports of entry during the past five years, according to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Southwest Border Migration report. DHS officials report that 99 percent of the 94,285 migrant families apprehended last year remain in the U.S. today.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the exponential increases are pushing the system to a “breaking point.”

“Smugglers, traffickers, and their own parents put these minors at risk by embarking on the dangerous and arduous journey north,” Secretary Nielsen stated. “This crisis is exacerbated by the increase in persons who are entering our custody suffering from severe respiratory illnesses or exhibit some other illness upon apprehension.”

Nielsen blamed the massive increase in migrant crossings, particularly family units and unaccompanied minors, on several “draw factors.” Among those, she listed:

  • an immigration system that rewards parents for sending their children across the border alone,
  • a system that prevents parents who bring their children on a dangerous and illegal journey from facing consequences for their actions,
  • an asylum process that is not able to quickly help those who qualify for asylum,
  • a system that encourages fraudulent claims, and a system that encourages bad actors to coach aliens into making frivolous claims.

“The bottom line is that 9 out 10 asylum claims are rejected by a federal immigration judge,” Secretary Nielsen stated.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan blamed Congress for failing to take action to secure the border and fix broken laws that act as magnets for these families and minors.

“This is why I asked [Congress] to change our laws so that the United States is not incentivizing families to take this dangerous path,” he said.

On January 3, Congress elected Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to serve as Speaker of the House of Representatives. House Democrats opened the session by pushing for a spending bill to end the government shutdown that includes more money for abortions, but no money for border walls.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.


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