Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, June 7, 2016
Illegal immigrants are kidnapping children and bringing them across the border, hoping to appear to be families so they can take advantage of lax enforcement policies, the Obama administration told a federal appeals court on Tuesday.
Leon Fresco, a deputy assistant attorney general who handles immigration cases, made the stunning claim as he defended the administration’s policy of detaining illegal immigrant parents and children caught traveling together as they jump the border. After a federal judge last year ordered the families quickly released, Mr. Fresco said it’s served as an enticement for kidnapping.
“When people now know that when I come as a family unit, I won’t be apprehended and detained–we now have people being abducted so that they can be deemed as family units, so that they can avoid detention,” Mr. Fresco told the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Most of the attention has gone to the unaccompanied minors who have arrived by the tens of thousands. Under a 1990s-era legal agreement known as the Flores settlement, the children are required to be quickly processed and released to social workers, and eventually placed with family or other sponsors.
But even more of the Central American illegal immigrants are now coming as family units–a parent and children traveling together–and the rules for handling them are hotly debated.
Last year, Judge Dolly M. Gee agreed, and ordered all of the children quickly processed and released. In cases where they came with a parent, she said it usually made sense to release the parent too, because that was in the best interests of the children.
The Obama administration warned that would lead to a new surge of illegal immigration, and the numbers bear that out, with fiscal year 2016 on track to set a record for family units caught trying to jump the border.