by WorldTribune Staff, August 21, 2019
The Trump administration on Aug. 21 moved to effectively end “catch and release.”
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced a “final rule” which will result in the termination of the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA).
The FSA, which is a court settlement and not a constitutional provision, prevents migrant family units from being detained for more than 20 days. The termination of the FSA will allow authorities to detain illegals with no time constraints. Family units will not be separated in detention.
The Aug. 21 Flores settlement announcement is the latest of the Trump administration’s “17 reforms to the immigration system that officials credit for the reduction in crossings and apprehensions on the southern border,” Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard said.
The other 16, Bedard noted, are:
• Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), a deal in which migrants seeking admission to the U.S. from Mexico may be required to wait in Mexico. Since it was signed in May, Southwest border arrests have decreased 43 percent.
• Border Wall. 52 miles new wall built in heavily trafficked areas along the Southern border with 334 miles of border wall promised to be built by the end of 2020.
• 5,000 troops have been sent to the border.
• The Pentagon has redirected $2.5 billion from the military construction budget to help build 100 miles of the wall along the Southern border.
• The U.S. and Guatemala agreed to enter an Asylum Cooperative Agreement to allow asylum seekers to be transported to Guatemala to seek asylum there first.
• $4.6 billion in emergency aid sought by the administration was approved. The administration said it provided “minimal funding for the humanitarian mission at the border, providing supplies for the hundreds of thousands of aliens coming into the country each month.”
• The “asylum rule” made migrants ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country on their way to the U.S. without claiming asylum there.
• The public charge rule requires immigrants to “be self-sufficient and able to support themselves without specified government welfare benefits.”
• Drug enforcement was expanded. In June, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol seized a vessel that contained 33 thousand pounds of cocaine, one of the largest cocaine drug seizures in history.
• The administration moved to challenge activist judicial decisions.
• Law enforcement has been beefed up, especially at ICE where enforcement and removal operations have been expanded.
• More Border Patrol agents have been assigned to the border.
• More asylum officers, 500 more by the end of the year, have been created.
• Sponsors of migrants are now facing enforcement of their legal responsibilities.
• Justice issued a rule “more clearly defining the category of ‘social groups’ as a claim for credible fear in asylum cases.”
• The minimum investment required in the EB-5 Visa Immigrant Investor Program was increased.
Writing for the Conservative Review, David Horowitz noted: “With today’s change, the Trump administration is fulfilling one of the options laid out in the Flores settlement by publishing regulations governing the treatment of detained minors. Officials have created a process for certifying the conditions of various facilities they now believe fulfill the conditions of Flores and can be designed to hold children with their parents. Thus, no family separation – and no catch-and-release.”
Until the Trump administration’s Aug. 21 “final rule,” the courts “have lawlessly ‘legislated’ a 20-day deadline for holding children without such certified facilities or else they have to be released,” Horowitz wrote. “Moreover, Judge Dana Sabraw created a new edict last year contrary to law that children can’t be released alone once they come with an adult and that the adult must be released with them. Thus, the expansion of Flores and Sabraw’s ruling spawned the worst period of migration in our history, where primarily one adult would come with one child, the perfect scam.”
With the termination of FSA, Horowitz wrote, “the reality is that very few people will wind up in these holding facilities in the long run, because the minute they hear the scam is over, they simply will not come.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said in the Aug. 21 announcement: “The FSA always contained provisions for its implementation in regulations and its termination – originally, it was to remain in effect no more than five years; and then, in 2001, the parties agreed it would terminate after a final rulemaking. Beginning in 2005, prior administrations repeatedly announced plans for a rule. No prior administration, however, issued a final rule. With this achievement now complete, the FSA will terminate by its own terms, and the Trump administration will continue to work for a better immigration system.”
DHS said the rule takes effect in 60 days.
“Today, the government has issued a critical rule that will permit the Department of Homeland Security to appropriately hold families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system,” McAleenan said. “This rule allows the federal government to enforce immigration laws as passed by Congress and ensures that all children in U.S. government custody are treated with dignity, respect, and special concern for their particular vulnerability.”
The expectation that migrant adults who arrive with children will quickly be released into the U.S. has in large part led to the massive increase in the number of family units illegally crossing the southern border, immigration officials say.
In February, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that they detained 290 percent more family units this fiscal year than they had in the same time frame the previous year.
Most of those allowed to enter the U.S. under “catch and release” never return for their court proceedings. The majority do not meet the final threshold for being granted asylum.
“Out of every 100 credible fear claims, on average, only about 12 result in a grant of asylum by an asylum judge,” the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review said in a review last May.
The Flores settlement is “the source of all our border problems,” Horowitz wrote.
“The entire mass migration to our border and all its cascading ill effects can be traced to one thing: the Flores settlement’s expansion from children to family units by a single district judge,” Horowitz wrote. Flores “is a court settlement, designed as a temporary arrangement, that actually runs contrary to statute and has been used as a catalyst to undermine every bedrock law of sovereignty.”
The Flores settlement, originally agreed upon in 1997 and modified in 2001, “provided that government would only house alien children in ‘non-secure, state licensed’ facilities or release them expeditiously until and unless the federal government writes a regulation to build its own licensing scheme ensuring the safe and sanitary conditions of the facilities,” Horowitz noted. “Given that there are no such state-licensed facilities, and the feds, until now, have not created their own scheme, it forced them to release unaccompanied minors expeditiously. In 2015, a California judge applied Flores to children accompanied by a parent as well, an order that was upheld by the Ninth Circuit” in 2016.
“It’s truly difficult to overstate the evil that expanded Flores has done to our security, our fiscal solvency, and Latin American children,” Horowitz wrote. “By creating a huge market incentive to exploit children for mass migration by adults, it has:
• Brought over 1 million Central Americans to our border over the past two years, saddling Americans with the cost of caring for them.
• Flooded our hospitals with endless medical bills paid for by taxpayers. Agents have taken 21,000 sick or injured illegal aliens to the hospital since January, consuming 250,000 agent man-hours. This includes those who came to the border specifically for the purpose of taxpayer-funded surgeries for long-term illnesses.
• Fueled the growth of MS-13 and other violent groups that grew as a result of young Central American teens coming under such irresponsible circumstances.
• Fueled the drug crisis by enriching the cartels, serving as a supply for drug runners, and being used as strategic diversions to bring in drugs and gangs.
• Tied down border agents, leaving very few patrolling the line, enabling dangerous criminal aliens to get into the country.
• Created an entire industry to traffic and steal children to be used as golden tickets.
• Caused countless children to be raped and abused by cartels and smugglers.
• Exposed agents, health care workers, and ultimately the American people to contagious diseases.
• Because of the artificial Flores deadline, some of the worst criminals are incentivized to take kids to the border and get released into the country because we don’t have time to vet them.
Indeed, even if the wave were to end today, we will likely be seeing the effects of the crime wave and fiscal cost for years to come.”