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Trump administration takes aim at the Flores settlement — one of the biggest loopholes driving the current border crisis

The following is an excerpt from Blaze Media’s daily Capitol Hill Brief email newsletter:

The Trump administration is announcing today a new effort to address one of the key factors driving the ongoing border crisis: The Flores settlement.

The Flores settlement is a court decision that has limited the administration’s ability to handle the border crisis. The settlement first came after a nine-year lawsuit against the government and determined at that time that unaccompanied minors had to be released from detention “without unnecessary delay.” That was expanded later in 2017 to effectively a catch-and-release loophole for entire family units or those merely posing as family units, because of an imposed 20-day detention cap.

In turn, the existence of this loophole has been a boon for unscrupulous border-crossers who have been using children as “get out of jail free” cards in order to avoid detention. In some cases, children have reportedly been “recycled” by traffickers, while many have been kidnapped. In others, migrants have reportedly attempted to purchase children to make the journey. CR reported just a few weeks ago on the case of yet another child who had to be taken into DHS custody because a DNA test showed he was brought to the U.S. border by someone not related to him.

Wednesday’s action from the Trump administration will aim to keep family units together throughout their immigration proceedings, without unnecessarily releasing them into the United States interior, by eliminating the Flores decree’s 20-day holding limit while creating a standardized licensing system for family detention facilities at the border, according to information about the new rule obtained by Blaze Media.

“Today the Administration is closing one of the legal loopholes that has allowed human traffickers and smugglers to exploit our vulnerabilities at the southern border,” a senior administration official told Blaze Media. “President Trump has made it clear that he’s going to secure America’s border at all cost and this rule plays a vital role in the strategy to restore the integrity to our immigration system and our national security.”

Previously, the administration floated a rule change on the Flores issue back in September 2018.

Further details of the change will be laid out at a press conference with acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar held by DHS later Wednesday morning.

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