By Jon Dougherty
A group of Republican House members have sent a letter to Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan containing several proposals for addressing the ongoing migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border without having to change laws — something they know majority Democrats would never support.
The letter, sent Thursday, from several border state representatives outlines steps that DHS and the Trump administration can take without resorting to legislation that they say will directly impact the number of frivolous asylum claims, which the U.S. Border Patrol has identified as one of the main drivers behind the immigrant hordes.
Rep. Andy Biggs from Arizona, and Reps. Michael Cloud and Chip Roy from Texas led the effort. In a news release, Biggs said that given the Democratically controlled House’s outright refusal to address the border crisis, it’s going to be up to the executive branch, and particularly DHS, to use available policy tools.
“President Trump has committed to using his legal authorities to address this national emergency, and my colleagues and I have identified potential actions his administration could take to fulfill the president’s vision,” Biggs said.
Cloud noted further, “Congress has failed in its responsibility to secure the border, but there are actions the President’s administration can take within the confines of the law to help resolve the current humanitarian crisis.”
“Our goal is to encourage DHS to support the president in doing our basic duty to secure the border,” said Roy. “Neither bureaucrats, nor Democrats, should get in the way.”
The letter, which was signed by 10 Republicans and no Democrats, outlined specific proposals, including providing training for Border Patrol agents so they can conduct “credible fear” interviews with illegal aliens they catch before they are released in the United States to await the asylum hearings.
The lawmakers further called for the Trump administration to implement “Migrant Protection Protocols” which, in part, require immigrants from Central America to remain in Mexico while they await their asylum hearings.
In addition, the lawmakers proposed not granting work permits to asylum seekers, giving them legal authority to work in the U.S. while their claims are processed. The lawmakers noted in their letter that this is a “pull-factor for migrants.”
In addition, they said raising asylum fees “would discourage frivolous and fraudulent applications from being filed.”
And finally, they recommended overriding the Flores court decision through a change in federal regulation.
“Under the 1997 Flores v. Reno settlement, federal authorities may only detain unaccompanied migrant children for 20 days, then they must be released to parents, adult relatives or sanctioned programs,” the Western Journal reported. The site added:
In 2015, U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, an Obama appointee, ruled that the Flores requirements apply to both unaccompanied minors and children apprehended with their parents. This update makes deporting families with children seeking asylum virtually impossible.
“The Flores decision has not helped, frankly,” former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson told Fox News last week. “That was a decision reached by a federal district court in Los Angeles in 2015. I was opposed to it then. I’m opposed to it now.”
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