GOP’s ‘Recycled Children’ Drama Beats Democrats’ ‘Family Separation’ Claim

GOP senators are putting Democrat senators on the defensive by directly spotlighting the Democrats’ role in creating the “child recycling” problem on the U.S. border.


“We have this obvious mistreatment of children, recycling of children, [people] being paid to do it, probably the cartel benefiting from it,” Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley told the Senate Judiciary Committee June 11, adding:

There doesn’t seem to be the outrage that there ought to be, particularly in the media of the United States that is the police force for our democratic system of government, [given] that they are not paying any attention to it, always finding something wrong that the president is doing. It is just outrageous, and it is outrageous that we can’t pass legislation to correct this.

Migrants and coyotes are renting and trading hundreds of children to help them get through the Flores catch-and-release loophole in the border, according to agency reports.

The child-recycling business exists because the 2015 Flores loophole sets a 20-day limit on the family detentions. That limit allows economic migrants to be released and get work permits if they just bring a child and ask for asylum from supposed persecution and criminal threats.

In any debate over child recycling, the Democrats are vulnerable because they are “responsible for the abuse of these [recycled] children,” said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. 

The Democrats’ support for the Flores loophole ensures that children become “a golden ticket to release into the United States,” said Krikorian, regardless of the harmful impact on blue-collar Americans’ wages, rents, and schools. He continued:

They’re not only opposed to separating kids from their parents when they try to cross the border, but they are also opposed to keeping the parents and kids together if they are to be detained. By making it impossible to either detain the parents while sending the kids to relatives [in the United States] or to detain the whole families together, Democrats have supercharged the problem at the border. 

The child-recycling business is a political problem for Democrats, partly because it undermines their use of the “family separation” claim to intimidate voters and GOP politicians in debates about immigration.

Since June 2018, Democrats, migration advocates, and the media have lashed Trump and Republicans for supporting what they describe as the “family separation” of migrant parents and their accompanying children. In reality, the “family separation” uproar happened when law enforcement agencies adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards migrants. The policy required the agencies to detain illegal migrants pending their prosecution for illegal migration and to also send migrants’ accompanying children to shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

For a year, Democrats have worked with media allies to successfully portray the brief family separation requirement as a brutal and cruel policy by President Donald Trump and GOP legislators and to present themselves as moderate, good-hearted legislators.

But the child-recycling scandal threatens that political strategy — and it may become a proxy issue that GOP politicians and swing-voters use to denounce the pro-migration policies pushed by the media and by Democrats.

In response to the GOP’s spotlighting the child-recycling practice during the hearing, Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin complained the issue is obscuring the Democrats’ talking points about “family separations” and suggested that reports about “recycled children” are intended to push the Democrats’ “family separation” theme out of the news. He told the witness, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan:

I want to address one issue right off the bat here … This is the second time we’ve had testimony and questions asked about the so-called DNA testing for those who are fraudulently representing that certain children are their own. Now, there is no excuse for that and I’m not going to make any. But I’d like to ask you point blank because I’ve asked repeatedly–when are you going to provide us with the information on this so we know how many tests there have been, how many have failed on the DNA side and whether it is an appreciable percentage or a phenomena which should be a source of great concern but should not lead us to dismiss what is happening to [other] children in this process.

Durbin then asked the acting border chief for data — but heckled him as McAleenan answered:

McAleenan: 109 people were–were tested in that pilot. This was–these were targeted based on border patrol observations and concerns that there might not be a family relationship, so I want to get that clear upfront. Seventeen admitted or were tested out as fraudulent. Nine of them said this is not my child. I don’t want to take the test as they came forward to take the test. So this is a 15 percent return.

Durbin: I’m not suggesting that 15 percent of the children who are coming across the border with adults are, in fact, fraudulently represented as being the children of these adults. Are you?

McAleenan: That’s why I was careful to say that these were targeted referrals by Border Patrol agents who have concern about…

Durbin: The point I want to get to is this…

McAleenan: …their relationship. Can I just add one other point, sir?

Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy also complained, suggesting that the recycled kids were being brought to the United States by close relatives before dropping his question after McAleenan responded, “You said almost 4,800 migrants have presented as fraudulent family units this year. Does that include people who have familial relationships other than simple parent/child, such as grandparents or siblings?”

But GOP senators were not intimidated by the Democrats’ rhetoric. Chairman Lindsey Graham cited the Flores loophole when he questioned McAleenan:

Past 20 days, the minor has to be released. We choose to release the whole family, and we release them into the interior of the United States. Is that correct? … So, the best thing you can do is find a minor child to go with you and claim that person to be part of your family. Is that correct?

“That’s correct, and that’s why we’re seeing enormous numbers of fraudulent cases,” McAleenan responded.

Missouri’s new GOP Sen. Josh Hawley said:

I’m the father of two little boys. The idea that you would have children recycled, purchased, used for profit by these cartels and by these smuggling rings and that this Congress would sit by and say, “We’re just not going to do anything. There really is no crisis. There’s nothing we can agree on” is absolutely unbelievable to me. I mean, it–it is the worst failure of leadership that–that I can think of. I mean, it’s just absolutely–it absolutely stunning.

Throughout the hearing, McAleenan repeatedly provided data about the massive scale of the recycled children problem:

When we’re talking about fraudulent presentation, we’re talking about individuals who presented an adult/child relationship as a parent or guardian. That’s the primary focus there.

I just like to add that we’ve–we put 400 HSI [Homeland Security Investigations] investigators down in our key stations in El Paso and RGV. They’ve only been there for about five weeks. They’ve done about a thousand interviews to date–1,568 interviews–and they’ve identified 242 cases of fraud and 504 fraudulent documents.

We also did a DNA pilot for three days, only 109 families, 17 cases where the parent or guardian presented was not related. In fact, nine of them admitted that they were not related as they came up to the DNA testing. One individual was a 51-year-old who had paid $80 to rent a six-month-old child to come to the border. We’re very concerned about the incidence of fraud. We think it’s a huge part of the cycle, and it’s caused by the fact that they know if they come as a family, they’ll get special treatment at a border.

Many media reports admit that migrants are using children — usually their own — to trigger the Flores loophole that was created and is being protected by the D.C. establishment. But few media reports spotlight the Democrats’ role in creating and preserving the subsequent child migration into the United States.

Immigration Numbers:

Each year, roughly four million young Americans join the workforce after graduating from high school or university.

But the federal government then imports about 1.1 million legal immigrants and refreshes a resident population of roughly 1.5 million white-collar visa workers — including approximately one million H-1B workers — and approximately 500,000 blue-collar visa workers.

The government also prints out more than one million work permits for foreigners, tolerates about eight million illegal workers, and does not punish companies for employing the hundreds of thousands of illegal migrants who sneak across the border or overstay their legal visas each year.

This policy of inflating the labor supply boosts economic growth for investors because it ensures that employers do not have to compete for American workers by offering higher wages and better working conditions.

This policy of flooding the market with cheap, foreign, white-collar graduates and blue-collar labor also shifts enormous wealth from young employees towards older investors, even as it also widens wealth gaps, reduces high-tech investment, increases state and local tax burdens, and hurts children’s schools and college educations. It also pushes Americans away from high-tech careers and sidelines millions of marginalized Americans, including many who are now struggling with fentanyl addictions. The labor policy also moves business investment and wealth from the Heartland to the coastal citiesexplodes rents and housing costsshrivels real estate values in the Midwest, and rewards investors for creating low-tech, labor-intensive workplaces.


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