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David Inserra specializes in cyber and homeland security policy, including protection of critical infrastructure, as policy analyst in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies. Read his research.
The last few months have seen a significant decline in Border Patrol arrests thanks in part to attempts by the Trump administration to deter and discourage illegal immigration. But serious problems remain unsolved and more remains to be done.
Inauguration - President - Trump - Entries - US
Following the inauguration of President Trump, illegal entries into the U.S. fell sharply, partially as a result of new policies to combat illegal immigration, but also because there was a widespread perception that Trump would be able to completely stop illegal immigration.
However, loopholes and weaknesses in U.S. immigration laws remained. For example, a 2016 decision by the 9th Circuit court reinterpreted a 1997 court settlement to rule that when adults enter the country illegally, any child accompanying them must be released from immigration agencies’ custody within 20 days.
US - Asylum - System - Game - Fear
The U.S. asylum system is also easy to game. Many who enter illegally are able to pass the initial “credible fear” hearing and get released into the U.S. – but very few end up being granted asylum.
With an easy-to-game asylum process and loopholes for bringing children to the border, the U.S.’s ability to manage its border and adjudicate claims was being overwhelmed.
Trump - Administration - Weaknesses - Policies - Zero
The Trump administration tried to plug these weaknesses through policies such as zero tolerance (also known as family separation), but these solutions were far from ideal and received widespread pushback. The administration ended them and began releasing anyone caught with a child. And so it became clear that because of the loopholes, bringing a child to the southern border was the golden ticket into the U.S. for illegal immigrants.
The result was that the number of family units (adults with children) and unaccompanied children coming to...
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