The administration is taking further steps to ensure legal immigration. It is moving to close another loophole in the U.S. immigration system. Wednesday this week, the Department of Homeland Security issued the new rule “Flores Final Rule” (FFR).
The new rule allows for holding migrant families for longer than 20 days during court proceedings. This replaces the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA) which limits a child migrant’s detention period. The new rule is critical to permitting the DHS to appropriately hold families together. It improves the integrity of the immigration system.
What came before
The FSA is an agreement from 1977. It requires the government to release migrant children from detention facilities after 20 days with their family. The alternative is they would be separated from their families, as well as ensuring specific conditions. The administration calls the FSA a magnet that draws more and more alien families to make the dangerous journey to our border.
The Trump administration pointed to the massive influx of migrants coming to the southern border. In the fiscal year of 2013, there were a total of 14,855 apprehensions compared to 432,838 apprehensions of family units in the entirety of the fiscal year 2019 so far, with two months still to go. There were 521,090 total apprehensions in the fiscal year 2018.
What do those who administer the rule think?
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) Chief Carla Provost notes the message is really loud and clear for migrant family units. The message is, “if you bring a child, you get release into the country. Rio Grande (CBP) Chief Rudy Karish, reports they detained an MS-13 gang member as a part of a fake family unit. CBP intercepted a message the migrant sent back to Central America, basically telling them that if you use a child, that’s going to be the easiest way for you to get into the United States. They recognize that there are gaps in our policies,” Karish said.
The president made it clear in the press release that the new rule would ensure safety. Migrant children will remain with their parents during their legal processing at the U.S.-Mexico border. The administration hopes to stop human smugglers from exploiting the U.S. immigration system’s loopholes, using minors as a “free pass” into the country. DHS believes the new rule will help to deter migrants from using children as a “pawn” to gain access into the U.S.
No child should be a pawn or as a passport to the United States. The new rule would shift the detention period for families away from the limit of 20 days before release into the U.S. to migrant families being held for an unlimited, unspecified time period during their processing. The new rule takes effect starting in 60 days.
Immigration has been a major topic in the Trump administration. Republican lawmakers have been quiet about the announcement to change the Flores settlement. Congressional Democrats are vocally in opposition. Acting CBP chief Mark Morgan calls the move a “game-changer. He also said that the time migrant families are detained is not indefinite but around 40 to 50 days. This will absolutely eliminate a significant part of this crisis. To protect these children from abuse, and stop this illegal flow, we must close these loopholes. This is an urgent humanitarian necessity.