The entire mass migration to our border and all its cascading ill effects can be traced to one thing: the Flores settlement’s expansion from children to family units by a single district judge. Flores is not a constitutional provision, a statute, or even a court ruling. It is a court settlement, designed as a temporary arrangement, that actually runs contrary to statute and has been used as a catalyst to undermine every bedrock law of sovereignty. After a full year of dithering, the Trump administration is finally using its unquestionable power to modify the settlement to finally end catch-and-release.
The Flores settlement, originally agreed upon in 1997 and modified in 2001, provided that government would only house alien children in “non-secure, state licensed” facilities or release them expeditiously until and unless the federal government writes a regulation to build its own licensing scheme ensuring the safe and sanitary conditions of the facilities. Given that there are no such state-licensed facilities, and the feds, until now, have not created their own scheme, it forced them to release unaccompanied minors expeditiously. In 2015, a California judge applied Flores to children accompanied by a parent as well, an order that was upheld by the Ninth Circuit the following year.
Flores is the source of all our border problems
It's truly difficult to overstate the evil that expanded Flores has done to our security, our fiscal solvency, and Latin American children. By creating a huge market incentive to exploit children for mass migration by adults, it has:
- Brought over 1 million Central Americans to our border over the past two years, saddling Americans with the cost of caring for them.
- Flooded our hospitals with endless medical bills paid for by taxpayers. Agents have taken 21,000 sick or injured illegal aliens to the hospital since January, consuming 250,000 agent man-hours. This includes those who came to the border specifically for the purpose of taxpayer-funded surgeries for long-term illnesses.
- Fueled the growth of MS-13 and other violent groups that grew as a result of young Central American teens coming under such irresponsible circumstances.
- Fueled the drug crisis by enriching the cartels, serving as a supply for drug runners, and being used as strategic diversions to bring in drugs and gangs.
- Tied down border agents, leaving very few patrolling the line, enabling dangerous criminal aliens to get into the country.
- Created an entire industry to traffic and steal children to be used as golden tickets.
- Caused countless children to be raped and abused by cartels and smugglers.
- Exposed agents, health care workers, and ultimately the American people to contagious diseases.
- Because of the artificial Flores deadline, some of the worst criminals are incentivized to take kids to the border and get released into the country because we don’t have time to vet them.
Indeed, even if the wave were to end today, we will likely be seeing the effects of the crime wave and fiscal cost for years to come.
Under Flores, Trump has the power to terminate the settlement with a new regulation
This is where today’s announcement of a Flores modification comes into play. The law actually requires that these people be detained under most circumstances and does not place a time constraint on the detention, nor does it make exceptions for children. The constraint on holding children in certain facilities emanated from a court settlement that began in the 1980s and crystalized in 1997 as a temporary arrangement until 45 days after government promulgates a permanent regulation defining the parameters of the holding facilities for children along safe and sanitary guidelines laid out in the settlement.
Until now, courts have lawlessly “legislated” a 20-day deadline for holding children without such certified facilities or else they have to be released. Moreover, Judge Dana Sabraw created a new edict last year contrary to law that children can’t be released alone once they come with an adult and that the adult must be released with them. Thus, the expansion of Flores and Sabraw’s ruling spawned the worst period of migration in our history, where primarily one adult would come with one child, the perfect scam.
With today’s change, the Trump administration is fulfilling one of the options laid out in the Flores settlement by publishing regulations governing the treatment of detained minors. Officials have created a process for certifying the conditions of various facilities they now believe fulfill the conditions of Flores and can be designed to hold children with their parents. Thus, no family separation – and no catch-and-release.
The reality is that very few people will wind up in these holding facilities in the long run, because the minute they hear the scam is over, they simply will not come.
Therefore, it’s simply indefensible for anyone to oppose this move unless they downright want illegal immigration, the empowerment of human and sex smuggling, and all its other odious and cascading social, fiscal, and national security problems.