Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over immigration issues, published an opinion piece Wednesday arguing that three immigration law loopholes are incentivizing people to enter the United States illegally, putting children at great risk, and encouraging frivolous asylum claims.

With co-sponsor Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), Rep. Collins has introduced the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act in order “to protect minors and asylum seekers, while reducing fraud at the southern border.”

The three loopholes the legislation aims to close are:

  1. Addressing the Flores court settlement “to ensure that children who are apprehended at the border with their parent(s) are not separated from their parent or legal guardian while in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody. The bill requires the DHS Secretary to keep children and parents together while their illegal entry cases are pending at the Department of Justice. The bill also prohibits DHS from releasing a child into the custody of any person other than a parent or legal guardian.”

    Federal courts have ruled that alien minors can only be hold for up to 20 days, and parents must be released with their minor children. Changing the law to address the Flores settlement would allow for parents and children to be held together pending a hearing.

  2. Protecting children who arrive without parents by establishing consistent rules for unaccompanied alien minors who arrive at the border. Under current law “children from countries that do not border the U.S….must be placed in very lengthy removal proceedings in immigration court, during which they are usually released into the U.S., often to the very adults who attempted to have them smuggled into the country. The status quo often incentivizes adults to enlist coyotes to smuggle children across the border. The bill removes that incentive and requires that unaccompanied alien children be treated equally regardless of their home nations.”
  3. Increasing integrity in the asylum system. "Currently, less than 20% of people who are granted credible fear are ultimately granted asylum, which is designed to protect men, women and children who have been persecuted or have a well-founded fear of persecution in their home nations. A dramatic increase in frivolous claims is making vulnerable people who actually qualify for asylum wait longer for that protection. This bill raises the credible fear standard so that fewer baseless asylum claims consume the taxpayer and other resources set aside to aid people at risk of persecution."

Rep. Collins says the legislation is necessary because:

We know that people who take advantage of these loopholes put themselves or others at risk. Many of those victims are children or people targeted for persecution.

Congress can better and protect both of these groups in a single vote for a bill that’s already on the table. Why wouldn’t we take that step?

The op-ed can be found here.

The text of the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act can be found here.

Updated: Fri, Feb 22nd 2019 @ 11:15am EST