The Trump administration is turning up the heat on Congress to fix glaring loopholes that have led to the surge of illegal aliens arriving with children in tow, or as unaccompanied minors. Congress's refusal to address these problems have left the administration with only bad options to choose from: Allowing adults (they could be parents, or they could be human traffickers) to use children as human shields to facilitate entry to the United States, or to detain adults separately from the children accompanying them.
While many in Congress are complaining about the administration's choice of the latter option, the White House, last week, renewed its call for Congress to do its job and fix the problems. The administration identified three areas Congress needs to address:
Reform the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act. The sad irony of the TVPRA is that, in addition to encouraging the illegal migration of family units, it is facilitating the trafficking of minors. The law, as written, requires that minors from non-contiguous countries be allowed to enter the United States and remain here while they pursue their asylum claim. The Obama administration made the same recommendation in 2014.
Close loopholes in the asylum law. Mass immigration advocates are overtly coaching people about what they need to say to clear the initial hurdle for a "credible fear" claim when they arrive at the border. The majority of asylum claims are ultimately found to be invalid, or the claimants just disappear into the interior of the U.S. In either circumstance it is extremely difficult to remove them once they've entered the country.
Overturn the Flores agreement. In 2014 the Obama administration agreed to abide by a court ruling that limits the detention of families with children to just 20 days. Predictably, that decision led to a surge of families with children entering the country illegally, and is the root cause behind the current policy of separating adults and children.
The poverty and violence in Central American is real, but not a new phenomenon. What has changed in recent years is the perception that turning up at the U.S. border with children or a canned request for asylum will get you through the door.
The administration's zero-tolerance policy is an attempt to deal with the symptoms of the problem, but it is up to Congress to address the root causes of the abuse.
Dan Stein is president of the Federation of Americans for Immigration Reform.