The Center welcomes the issuance of the regulation replacing the controversial Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA). The new regulation will establish standards for the humane detention of illegal migrants who bring children into the country. The huge influx we have seen along the southwest border since the end of 2017 has largely been driven by parents arriving with children, expecting they would be released within 20 days, as required under a 2015 ruling by the federal judge who oversees the FSA. This ruling was challenged by the Obama administration. The journey to cross the United States border illegally is dangerous and facilitated by criminal enterprises. Migrants, both parents and children, have been brutalized and subject to hardship along the journey to the United States. Smugglers have used the promise of easy entry into the United States to encourage parents to bring their children to trigger their release from government custody.
Removing the magnet that draws them to enter the United States illegally will discourage the migrants and deprive smugglers of what has become their key sales pitch. Family units, that is parents and guardians traveling with children, require 78.5 hours of processing time, according to the Center’s research. The regulation therefore will free up limited Customs and Border Protection (CBP) resources, particularly those of the Border Patrol. These resources are needed to allow the agency to perform its other key missions of protecting the national security and stemming the flow of drugs and other illegal contraband over the southwest border from Mexico. Notably, 90 percent of the heroin and up to 80 percent of the methamphetamine that is poisoning America’s cities is produced in Mexico and imported into the United States illegally.