The Corner

Report: 2008 Law Not an Obstacle to Rapid Response to Border Crisis

The Center for Immigration Studies has released a new report saying that a 2008 trafficking law should not benefit a significant majority of the illegal immigrant children crossing the border.

The “William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008” sends the “unaccompanied alien children,” arriving from countries other than Mexico and Canada into the care of the Department of Health and Human Services that places the kids with a family member or sponsor while they await their day in court.

But CIS claims most of the children crossing the border do not meet the definition of an unaccompanied alien child found in federal law. In order for a minor to receive this designation, the illegal alien must be younger than age 18 and be without “a parent or legal guardian in the United States.” The report says around 90 percent of non-Mexican and non-Canadian children arriving in America are placed with family or guardians in the U.S.

The report also explains that the immigrant children are not victims of human trafficking because of a lack of coercion. The CIS report says families and their children are often willing participants in smuggling operations, and note that family members pay fees to smugglers who bring the children to the U.S.  CIS notes that “human trafficking” and “human smuggling” are distinct criminal activities that provide important insight about how the children should be processed.

“An illegal immigrant who arrives at the U.S. border who is not a victim of trafficking and has family inside the United States should not be benefitting from protections in the 2008 trafficking law,” said Jon Feere, Legal Policy Analyst at CIS. “Amending trafficking laws should not become a distraction from addressing the bigger problem of lax enforcement of immigration law – and inappropriate application of law – which continues to encourage people to come to the United States illegally.”

The report says that the Obama administration should limit its use of the 2008 trafficking law where possible, and notes that the law allows for its enforcement to be limited in “exceptional circumstances.” CIS recommends a number of alternative remedies to the border crisis including targeting human smuggling operations, ending public discussion about amnesty, and making better use of “Expedited Removal,” an authority which “allows immigration officers to quickly remove any inadmissible alien who is without a valid claim of asylum,” according to the report.

“The Obama administration appears to be hiding behind the 2008 law and acting like it requires them to allow the current wave of illegal immigration to continue,” the report states. “It is important to remember that trafficking laws are not responsible for the current illegal immigration surge and any changes that might be made will likely have little impact.”

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