A Humanitarian Test for a Do-Nothing Congress



Assuming lawmakers are interested in looking for one, Congress has a bipartisan immigration fix right under its noses. It’s what the Obama administration tried, but failed, to do.

As more Central American caravans arrive with children at the U.S. border, Congress must address the “pull factors” that entice migrants to expose themselves, and especially minors, to the predations of criminal enterprises along the way.

One of the more perverse magnets is the Flores vs. Reno consent decree issued by a federal court in California.

In 2015, District Judge Dolly Gee ruled that the 1997 settlement agreement applied to minors who arrived in the company of parents. Ostensibly aimed to protect minors, Gee’s order left the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) unable to keep any family that arrives at the border without a legal status together and in its custody for more than 20 days.

“Tragically, adults have learned to exploit this. They know they can avoid being detained and can secure a quick release into the U.S. interior by taking one or more children on what is, at best, a barren trek without basic sanitation or medical care,” says Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee.

“The sobering reality is that border agents report parents giving young girls birth control as a matter of course before the trip north because predators sexually assault one in three females on this journey,” Collins wrote in an op-ed this week.

Seeing the obvious problem, the Obama administration sought to carve out an exception for minors who had arrived in the U.S. with their parents. The administration wanted to detain some migrants for as long as it took to process their cases.

Collins noted that Obama’s legal team argued that the carve-out was “essential to respond to the current and future surges of persons (including families) seeking to enter without lawful status.”

Judge Gee said no.

Belatedly, Republicans on Capitol Hill have taken up the cause. As GOP Sens. Charles Grassley (Iowa), Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Ted Cruz (Texas) declared: “One simple step could have prevented the family separations we now decry: repealing the Flores consent decree as it relates to families.”

Senate Republicans last fall introduced S. 3478, the “FAMILIES Act,” which Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said, “overrides the court decision that has produced the current lose-lose situation and provides the resources to expeditiously adjudicate asylum claims.”

Collins said such legislation “would take away the reward for adults who use children as subway tokens to bypass safeguards in the system.”

Even with Republicans in control of the Senate, the FAMILIES Act languished in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and eventually died with the conclusion of the last congressional session.

Democrats genuinely moved by the plight of migrants have an opportunity here to follow their former president and do the right thing — legally and morally. Ditto for Republicans who profess to support President Trump’s immigration agenda. Can any responsible public servant reasonably object to sending a clear message that hauling minors to the border will no longer ensure a free pass into America?

Doing nothing guarantees that a bad situation will only get worse.

About Author

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Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

4 Comments

  1. avatar

    How Are You Going to Eat Without Fossil Fuels?

    Groceries are almost all fossil fuels for plastic containers, fertilizers, shipping the food, etc…Hades the food inside the containers is essentially free….she’s like all the Open Border Party (OBP) that are obsessed with destroying America, CA plans forced elimination of your COSTLY gas cars investments [soon, at at heater near you] and forced Chinese Lithium battery toxic production [like a nuclear facility meltdown] to destroy the environment and our jobs…HORRIFYING.

    Let’s move the Lithium Battery Nuclear Meltdown production process of heavy metals to America, for a New Green Deal? LOL…that sounds worse yet…and I’m a Nuclear Engineer.

  2. avatar

    “Do-Nothing Congress.” …You could write a book on that subject. Congress (and, I mean Republicans) have had numerous immigration enforcement bills, pass one chamber, only to languish in another. They have sold their souls to big business, which wants an endless supply of cheap labor flooding the country; and they (GOP) are (for obvious reasons; appeasing the donor class), even bigger cheerleaders for open borders, than their Democratic counterparts. Pelosi was right when she said, “Republicans had two years, and both houses, and the presidency, to get they’re wall!” I would argue, way longer than that.

    • avatar

      The problem comes in the Senate as you point out. Most bills need 60 votes to pass because of the way the rules are set up. The Republicans don’t have that margin. There are a certain number of Republicans who do want what are essentially open borders. But it’s almost the entire Democratic political establishment that is against border enforcement such as barriers and are for a total amnesty for everyone here illegally. If even a quarter of them would agree to some kind of barrier it would get done.

  3. avatar

    The leader of the Democratic party, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, claims that all Latinos have the right to come to the US because they are “descendants” of the original native Americans. She just gets dumber every day. A history major she is not. The people coming from south of the border had nothing to do with this country ever. It’s like saying all Brazilians are eligible to move to Chile because they share the same continent. In fact, the native Americans who lived here would kill anyone coming up to take their land, as they killed each other to prevent similar incursions. It’s they and their descendants who have the right to be here and be citizens, not someone in Guatemala.

    It was the government of Mexico itself that invited Americans to move into the southwest areas. After their independence from Spain in the early 1820s, they tried to get their citizens to move to those areas. Mexico only claimed the former colonies of Spain that made up the present day southwest. Those areas had nothing to do with historic Mexico which was just another colony of Spain centered around the area of Mexico City.

    It was Americans who had taken up the offer to move into areas like Texas and California when all those residents of Latino countries refused to do the hard work and endure the danger of Indian attacks by settling those areas. The history is well documented. Ocasio-Cortez is an idiot. It’s laughable trying to watch her supporters deny that she favors getting rid of all fossil fuels in a dozen years. Now I guess they will deny she’s for open borders.