The Department of Homeland Security revealed Tuesday that the threat of “fake families” declaring asylum together at the United States’ southern border is no joke; more than 150 illegal immigrant “families” have used non-familial children or adults to attempt to convince border patrol agents to allow them to remain in the country.
The Daily Caller reports that “there has been a 110 percent increase in male adults showing up at the border with children. Further, DHS separated 507 illegal immigrants between April 19 and September 30 because they fraudulently claimed they were part of a family unit.”
Customs and Border Patrol separated 170 “families” for being unable to prove any family relationship. In 139 of those cases, children were removed from the custody of unfamiliar adults. In other cases, “families” were separated after Border Patrol agents discovered that a person claiming to be a child was actually older than 18.
DHS blames the rise squarely on the Flores case, a Clinton-era court ruling which prevents illegal immigrant children from being held in custody while they await an asylum hearing, allowing children and their parents to, instead, remain in a residential setting inside the U.S. until they’re up for assessment.
“Aliens know that if they bring ANY minor with them they will be apprehended by Border Patrol and released into the interior of the United States,” a spokeswoman for DHS told the Washington Examiner. “This is a direct result of the Clinton-era Flores Settlement decree that has created a massive loophole which allows alien family units to illegally cross the border and enter the United States after a short detention. This well-known loophole acts a magnet for family units and entices smugglers to use children as a way to gain access to the United States by posing a family unit. Word has gotten out.”
The Flores case has been a thorn in the Trump administration’s side since the early summer, when the Administration declared an abrupt end to the Obama administration’s “catch and release” policy which fulfilled the obligations of Flores — holding illegal immigrant children in law enforcement custody for no more than 21 days — by allowing them to stay with their families in the United States while they awaited a hearing.
Often, those immigrant families would fail to show up for their assigned court date, leaving Border Patrol responsible for tracking down thousands of missing asylum seekers, most of whom had, by then, vanished into thin air.
Initially, the Trump administration solved the Flores problem by separating children from asylum seeking parents and holding children separately at detention facilities while their parents awaited assessment. That, of course, brought a wave of outrage, with pro-immigration activists contending the Trump policy was akin to keeping children “in cages.”
Now, the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security follows a modified “catch-and-release” program, detaining asylum-seeking families who can prove they are related for the maximum allotted time, then fitting adults with ankle monitors.
As long as the immigrant “families” have children, they’re allowed to remain in-country and avoid long-term detention, a “loophole” DHS says wannabe immigrants are exploiting.
“This well-known loophole acts a magnet for family units and entices smugglers to use children as a way to gain access to the United States by posing a family unit,” DHS said in a statement accompanying the new data.
DHS is primarily concerned that children are being exploited by drug smugglers and other unsavory characters in order to help them enter the country as a family.