President Trump's Repeal of the Flores Agreement Was a Humanitarian Imperative


President Donald Trump’s decision to end the Flores agreement is great news for American citizens and exploited migrant children alike.

Scrapping the agreement is absolutely essential to ending the crisis at the border.

The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement limits the detainment of minors who are caught entering the country illegally to just 20 days, creating an enormous incentive for illegal immigrants to bring children — many of whom are kidnapped by criminal organizations and rented out to childless migrants — in order to take advantage of what’s commonly referred to as “catch-and-release.”

Even before the Trump administration ended the long-standing policy of detaining children and adults separately, catch-and-release has been the default policy of the United States. Illegal immigrant families, as well as those who falsely claim to be families, can avoid lengthy detainment and deportation by using children to ensure they are released into the U.S. interior after 20 days.

Catch-and-release has been nothing but a resounding failure.

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According to Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, 90 percent of released immigrants never even show up to their court dates.

And — the knowledge of this system weakness is well known to the world and has served as an incentive to come. This policy is a magnet to draw people to embark on the dangerous journey — a journey that often results in death.

While the dishonest liberal media will claim that the administration’s decision to end Flores harms children, the policy change actually protects children by offering an alternative to either family separation or catch-and-release: keep families who entered the country illegally together in detention centers.

Most importantly, this third option eliminates the market for coyotes and drug cartels to engage in child trafficking, since toting rented children across the border will no longer offer an advantage to illegal immigrants seeking easy entry into the country.

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It also reduces the incentive for legitimate families to illegally cross into the United States, a journey that exposes young children to tremendous hardship and peril.

These well-documented phenomena are a natural consequence of the perverse incentives our broken immigration system has created. Ending them will save lives on both sides of the border.

If liberals actually cared about children, using facts and historic record to inform their thinking, they would acknowledge that the Flores Agreement has had disastrous consequences and should be ended immediately.

Instead, they tacitly defend catch-and-release as the only acceptable policy option short of completely abandoning enforcement of America’s immigration laws.

Getting rid of the Flores Agreement is a bold and appropriate move by President Trump, but boldness is exactly what’s needed to begin to fix the humanitarian crisis at our southern border, especially with congressional Democrats continuing to obstruct much-needed reforms to our outdated immigration laws.

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The incentives the Flores Agreement created for child abuse, human trafficking and illegal immigration were a major contributor to the humanitarian crisis on our southern border.

Ending that misguided policy represents a huge step toward ending the crisis.

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Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer is a retired senior intelligence operations officer and president of the London Center for Policy Research.