Rich Lowry has written a great article called “The Truth About Separating Kids.” Rich shows that the problem of child separation at the border stems from the decision of illegal immigrants to enter the U.S. illegally, for economic reasons, with their kids and then seek asylum.
They seek asylum to extend their stay, knowing that U.S. law — something called the Flores Consent Decree — says that unaccompanied children can be held by the government for only 20 days. Since asylum petitions take more than 20 days to process, the government must either release the adults and children together into the country pending the ajudication of the asylum claim or hold the adults and release the children, thereby separating them.
If the adult illegal immigrant is released while the claim is pending, it’s extremely unlikely that the government will find him or her again. Thus, releasing the adult is tantamount to allowing the illegal immigrant to live in the U.S. regardless of the merits of the case. The Trump administration is right to reject this outcome.
How to avoid family separation without enabling illegal immigration? Would-be immigrants could avoid it by not entering the U.S. illegally with their kids. They could also avoid it by not seeking asylum when, in reality, they are coming here to improve their economic lot.
What about people with legitimate asylum claims? They should make their claim in the first country where they feel safe, e.g., Mexico if they are coming from south of there. If some reason they are threatened everywhere but the U.S., they should show up at a port of entry and make their claim there rather than crossing the border illegally.
Congress could also fix the problem, says Lowry. It could change the rules so the Flores consent decree will no longer apply and it can appropriate more money for family shelters at the border.
This is what the Trump administration has called for, but Congress doesn’t seem interested. From the Democrats’ perspective, I suppose it’s better to keep the family separation issue alive. It’s win-win for the Dems. Either illegal immigrants get to take advantage of the seeking asylum loophole or the Dems get to rip the president for being “inhumane.”