The Obama administration may be misreading a 2008 law when it says it has to release most illegal immigrant children from Central America who are surging across the border, according to a new report being released Wednesday by the Center for Immigration Studies.
Jon Feere, legal policy analyst at the center, said that 2008 law applied only to unaccompanied minors who don’t have a parent or guardian already in the U.S. — a situation he said doesn’t apply to “a significant majority” of the children now jumping the border.
And even when the 2008 law, designed to combat human trafficking, is triggered, it allows the government to continue to hold the children in “exceptional circumstances.”
The report comes as lawmakers on both sides are increasingly demanding Mr. Obama assert his executive powers to begin to hold and deport the children faster, and it could add legal backing to some of those calls.
“Since there is little evidence to suggest that illegal immigrant children currently arriving at the U.S. border are victims of trafficking, and since few can be described as ‘unaccompanied alien children’ under federal law, the 2008 trafficking law has limited applicability to the current border surge,” Mr. Feere says in the new report. “Accordingly, the Obama administration should be limiting its use of the law where possible.”