Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, top Republican on the House Appropriations Homeland Security subcommittee, issued the following statement in response to the announcement by Acting Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan and Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Alex Azar regarding the Flores Final Rule. This rule terminates a loophole in the immigration system, the Flores Settlement Agreement, and allows for statutory and operational changes to combat the rise of fraudulent family asylum claims at the southern border.
“Today Acting DHS Secretary McAleenan and HHS Secretary Azar took appropriate action to terminate the Flores Settlement Agreement, a fundamental flaw in our immigration system that has been exploited by bad actors and fueled our immigration crisis. By issuing the Flores final rule, border security personnel will be able to keep families together through the duration of their immigration proceedings while maintaining humanitarian care and housing standards. Until now, the Flores Settlement Agreement required that family unit aliens be released after 20 days.
"This incentivized smugglers and human traffickers to fraudulently present themselves as families by exploiting migrant children, to which they had no relation, and using them as pawns in family asylum claims. That is not lawful immigration, but manipulation of our system at the expense of innocent minors for a profit.
"Addressing the decades-old Flores agreement is a pivotal step to restoring integrity to our asylum process, combating the rampant rise of human trafficking, and ensuring that bad actors do not impede the immigration process for credible asylum seekers. Next, Congress should pass the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act to build on this effort and address the crisis at our southern border.”
Congressman Fleischmann is a co-sponsor of H.R. 586, the Fix the Immigration Loopholes Act, which would address three immigration loopholes, including the Flores Settlement Agreement.