In an overdue but welcome move from the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday their new regulation replacing the Flores Settlement Agreement, which forces the separation of migrant children from their parents while they await asylum proceedings. For all that immigration activists and even members of the media have lambasted the DHS’ elimination of the potentially illegal Flores settlement, it may right one of the worst humanitarian evils on the border: the sexual assault epidemic of migrant children.
The new Flores Final Rule will immediately ameliorate the minor-on-minor sexual assault crisis by keeping children under the supervision of their parents rather than in understaffed cages. Of 1,303 sexual abuse cases of migrant minors, the Justice Department found that in 1,125 of them, the perpetrators were other minors. Keeping parents in charge of their children will drastically increase the supervision of children, all but eliminating not just fellow minors abusing them but also adult predators.
In the long term, the new regulation will disincentivize human traffickers from stealing children as an effective entry ticket to the country. Given the rightful blowback of family separation, border security has been forced to relegate to catch-and-release in migrant cases involving children, thus inviting false asylum seekers and illegal immigrants to traffic children in the hopes of being released into the country. Contrary to the claims of immigration doves, the child trafficking problem has catapulted into a crisis. In a pilot program of rapid DNA tests, border security officials found that 30% of children weren’t related to the “parents” who brought them to the country.
The legality of the Flores Final Rule remains unclear, and there’s no question that the change, as well as increased funding for border facilities and expediting immigration courts, ought to be coming from Congress. But as a matter of protecting human rights while preventing catch-and-release from inviting mass influxes of illegal immigrants and human traffickers, the replacement of the Flores Agreement should be celebrated by Americans across the political spectrum.