‘Flores’ Judge Preserves Catch and Release, Rejects Donald Trump’s Border Reform

Immigrants wait for assistance with travel plans after being released from detention through the 'catch and release' immigration policy at a Catholic Charities relief centre on June 17, 2018 in McAllen, Texas. - They said they were separated for approximately six days while in detention. 'Catch and release' is a …
Loren Elliot/AFP/Getty Images

The California judge who approved the “Flores” catch and release loophole in the nation’s border laws has rejected the regulatory fix drafted by President Donald Trump’s deputies.

Judge Dolly Gee’s rejection clears the way for the Department of Justice to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to overrule her decision and so allow officials to end the so-called Flores decree that forces border officials to release migrant children — and their parents — after just 20 days in detention.

Trump’s regulations fix the catch and release loophole by allowing officials to hold migrants and their children in detention until their claims for asylum are processed by courts. The continued detention will deter migrants because it bars migrants from getting the jobs they need to repay their smugglers. The detention also prevents migrants from using their release to escape deportation by hiding among the nation’s population of at least 12 million illegals.

The regulations “fail to implement and are inconsistent with the relevant and substantive terms of the Flores Settlement Agreement,” Gee wrote. “The Flores Settlement Agreement remains in effect and has not been terminated.”

Gee also said the elected president cannot escape her Flores rule because previous Presidents signed a “consent decree” in 1997 and expanded it in 2015. “The blessing or the curse — depending on one’s vantage point — of a binding contract is its certitude. The Flores Agreement is a binding contract and a consent decree,” said Gee, who is the daughter of two Chinese immigrants, one of whom was a successful aerospace engineer.

Gee’s 20-day, open-door policy has helped more than three million Central American migrants walk through the U.S. border since 2011, and then to crowd into the workplaces, communities, and schools needed by blue-collar Americans. The flood has lowered Americans’ wages, pushed up their rents, and added more chaotic diversity to their classrooms, while Gee has received extensive praise from advocates for more migration.

In the 12 months leading up to October, more than 460,000 foreign adults and children used Gee’s Flores rule to walk through Americans’ border rules and into the United States.

Many women and children have been sexually assaulted while taking Gee’s catch and release route into the United States.

Many other migrants have died on the pathway, including seven-year-olds Jakelin Caal Maquin and Gurupreet Kaur. “We wanted a safer and better life for our daughter and we made the extremely difficult decision to seek asylum here in the United States,” Kaur’s Indian parents said in a statement posted by the Sikh Coalition. The father is reportedly working in New York after applying for asylum.

The Flores replacement regulation is just one of many steps taken to block the Central American migration that was triggered by Gee’s catch and release rule. The steps include the “Remain in Mexico” program, asylum legal reforms, courtroom upgrades, as well as anti-migration deals with Mexico, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.

“The Department of Justice is disappointed that the court is continuing to impose the outdated Flores Agreement,” a justice department official said. “The government has done exactly what the Agreement required: issue a comprehensive rule that will protect vulnerable children, maintain family unity, and ensure due process for those awaiting adjudication of their immigration claims.

“The Trump Administration will continue to work to restore integrity to our immigration system and ensure the proper functioning of the duly enacted immigration laws,” the justice department said.

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