In 2015, Congress and the Obama administration abdicated their responsibilities to control the immigration chaos that is now gripping the border and the nation’s attention. They handed that authority to a single Federal District Court Judge, who ruled that under existing law, minors and families with children can be detained for a maximum of 20 days.

Congress could have fixed the problem at any time by amending the law. They could fix it today if they wanted to. Obviously, there are enough members of Congress who would rather have a political issue to grandstand about, rather than a solution.

These members of Congress (most with D’s appearing after their names) want there to be only two options available to deal with the surge of families with children: releasing the entire family within three weeks of their arrival, or detaining the adults separately and placing the children in the custody of family members in the U.S. or in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Clearly, what these members of Congress want is Option A: catch-and release. Everyone walks after 20 days, even though we know most will never appear for their scheduled hearings.

That may be their goal and the goal of the illegal alien advocacy network. But it’s not what the American people want. The American people want Option C or D, which are not currently on the menu because Congress refuses to put them there.

Option C (not currently offered) is “Hold families together in detention centers until an immigration hearing at a later date.” In a comprehensive The Economist/YouGov poll (see page 108), that was the policy option favored by 41 percent of voters. Only 19 percent favor the catch-and-release option. Twelve percent favor the now discontinued policy of holding the adults and placing children in the care of relatives or HHS, and another 8 percent favor separate, extended detention for adults and minors. Combined, 61 percent of voters support one of the three options that do not entail catch-and-release.

Perhaps even more significantly, these views are shared across ethnic and political lines. Forty-five percent of white and black respondents support the detain-families-together option, as do 48 percent of Hispanic respondents. Likewise, the Democratic Party’s position isn’t even popular among Democrats. Forty-nine percent of identified Democrats want families to be detained as a unit (higher even than self-identified Republicans!), compared to just 30 percent of Democratic voters who support catch-and-release.

The Economist poll is not an aberration. A CBS poll (see Question 31) offered Option D (also not currently on the policy menu) – “Release the entire family back in their home country together” (emphasis added). That choice is favored by 48 percent of voter, compared to 11 percent who want to detain them together in this country. That policy option also far exceeds the popularity of catch-and-release, which was favored by just 21 percent of voters in the CBS poll.

Those who are exploiting the two bad options now available should be forced to explain why they continue to block the policy options that voters broadly support from even appearing on the menu.

Ira Mehlman writes for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). 



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