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by Sharon Rondeau

Official Portrait of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Acting Commissioner Mark A. Morgan taken at CBP Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on July 9, 2019..Photographer: Donna Burton, public domain

(Aug. 25, 2019) — On today’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” host Maria Bartiromo said that the regulation change announced by the administration Wednesday to the “Flores” Settlement Agreement (FSA), which required the expeditious release of illegal-alien minors by U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP), does not signify a new “indefinite” holding time.

Bartiromo introduced the segment and guest Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan by stating that the rule change will give the CBP the authority to hold families with minors “indefinitely.”  The mainstream media widely used that term in reporting the proposed change, which is scheduled to take effect in 60 days pending approval from a federal judge.

“It’s not indefinite; that’s just a false narrative,” Morgan said.

Both in 2014 and during the Trump administration, surges of illegal aliens coming over the southern border have overwhelmed the U.S. Border Patrol and its parent organization, the CBP.  An outcry from both sides of the political aisle last year caused the Trump administration to walk back its “zero-tolerance” policy as to illegal aliens entering the country given that some children were separated from the adults with whom they crossed the border for long periods of time.

Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan said earlier this summer that a significant number of adults claiming children as their own during border processing are lying, as shown by DNA test results.  According to the administration, children are trafficked, abused and traumatized by adults who see them as facilitating their ability to enter and stay in the United States.

The rule change, McAleenan stated on Wednesday, will permit the Department of Homeland Security to appropriately hold families together and improve the integrity of the immigration system.”

“The FSA always contained provisions for its implementation in regulations and its termination – originally, it was to remain in effect no more than five years; and then, in 2001, the parties agreed it would terminate after a final rulemaking,” the DHS press release states.  “Beginning in 2005, prior administrations repeatedly announced plans for a rule.  No prior administration, however, issued a final rule.  With this achievement now complete, the FSA will terminate by its own terms, and the Trump Administration will continue to work for a better immigration system.”

As might have been expected, the mainstream media was largely critical of the move. “The administration’s goal with the new rule is deterrence, and its message to families fleeing Central America is blunt: Come here and we will lock you up. Critics say it is the latest in a series of policies by President Trump meant to close off the United States from the rest of the world,” The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Newsweek’s Nicole Goodkind wrote the same day, “In what can only be described as the new normal, the Trump administration, under the guise of 33 year-old Stephen Miller’s immigration plan, has taken another step to undo protections for detained migrant children that have been in place for nearly two decades. The actions immediately caused quite an uproar in Democratic circles, but went relatively uncritiqued by the right.”

Goodkind quoted Trump 2020 campaign spokesman Andrew Clark as having said in an email that the rule change “should be welcomed by the 2020 Democrats, who last year made clear that keeping families together should be a top government priority when it comes to illegal immigration.”

Because of Flores, Morgan said, the practice known as “catch-and-release” became inevitable since immigration cases are rarely heard within 20 days.  Legal challenges to the change are expected, Morgan said, despite his personal belief that it meets the condition requirements of Flores.

If implemented, however, Morgan predicted that drug-cartel leaders’ encouraging of Central Americans to bring a child with them for ease of entry to the U.S. “will end.”

Flores was litigated in 1997 and much later, in 2015, resulted in the 20-day decree.  According to NumbersUSA, which seeks lower immigration levels, “The agreement does not specify a time period, but after the Obama Administration expanded family detention, Judge Gee, whose judicial district is in California, ruled that officials could not hold children in unlicensed facilities for more than 20 days, the time the government said it needed to process their cases, grossly underestimating the average processing time.”

President Trump has railed against the 20-day standard, as has Sen. Lindsey Graham, who introduced legislation over the summer to amend that aspect of the Flores decree.

On Wednesday DHS explained the change as the “termination” of Flores:

Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced a final rule that finalizes regulations implementing the relevant and substantive terms of the Flores Settlement Agreement (FSA). Importantly, the rule will allow for termination of the FSA, and allow DHS and HHS to respond to significant statutory and operational changes that have occurred since the FSA has been in place, including dramatic increases in the numbers of unaccompanied children and family units crossing into the United States.

Morgan told Bartiromo the rule change is “a game-changer” which will allow CBP to “hold families together in a healthy, safe environment while they go through the immigration proceeding.” He said he expects the amount of time necessary to process families’ requests for political asylum will take “between 40 and 60 days.”

The Newsweek article reported that “Cases are often resolved within 90 days but can sometimes drag on for years.”

Morgan was Border Patrol chief in the latter part of Obama regime and reportedly “forced to resign” just days after Trump took office.  On June 27, 2019, he was announced as Acting CBP Commissioner.




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