Snopes dubs themselves a “fact check” website and we intend to test their mettle in that respect. Regardless of their obsessive support for liberal causes, which means they are anything but objective, let us look their latest “fact check” as a vehicle to test their ability to be unbiased and factual with a rather simplistic claim regarding the Flores Agreement. Are they capable of being forthright with respect to ‘fact checking’ a claim that is at the heart of such a divisive and sensitive issue?
Recently, Snopes attempted to “fact check” the following claim: Was the ‘law to separate families’ passed in 1997 or ‘by Democrats’?
A brief description of the Flores Agreement as explained by Humanrightsfirst.org:
In 1985, two organizations filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of immigrant children who had been detained by the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) challenging procedures regarding the detention, treatment, and release of children. After many years of litigation, including an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, the parties reached a settlement in 1997.
The Flores Settlement Agreement (Flores) imposed several obligations on the immigration authorities, which fall into three broad categories:
- The government is required to release children from immigration detention without unnecessary delay to, in order of preference, parents, other adult relatives, or licensed programs willing to accept custody.
- If a suitable placement is not immediately available, the government is obligated to place children in the “least restrictive” setting appropriate to their age and any special needs.
- The government must implement standards relating to the care and treatment of children in immigration detention.
According to advocates, as well as the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, the INS did not immediately comply with the terms of the Agreement. It was only after the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) assumed responsibility for the care and custody of unaccompanied children in 2003—a product of years of advocacy on the part of human rights organizations, religious groups, and political leaders—that noticeable changes were implemented.
ORR, like the former INS and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), has failed to issue regulations implementing the terms of the settlement, as required by the parties’ 2001 stipulation extending the agreement.
Codification of the Flores Agreement as explained by the American Immigration Lawyers Association:
July 5, 2017
The court affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California’s order granting the motion of a plaintiff class to enforce the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, holding that the agreement had not been abrogated by Congress, and that detained immigrant children continue to be protected by it. The court held that two statutes enacted by Congress since the government agreed to the Flores Settlement—the Homeland Security Act and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act—did not terminate the bond hearing requirement of Paragraph 24A of the agreement for unaccompanied, noncitizen minors in removal proceedings. (Flores v. Sessions, 7/5/17)
The only way to get rid of a consent decree that has been codified through the Supreme Court is by Congress enacting a law to either uphold and affirm the agreement or to do-away with the agreement all together. Technically it is NOT considered law however, when the Supreme Court mandates that the government abide by a consent decree, they are bound to conform to the conditions stipulated within the agreement. They are enforceable through litigation and this particular consent decree known as, the Flores Agreement, has been enforced through litigation via the Supreme Court, as exemplified above.
Snopes outright says that the claim is false without much of an explanation. It appears that Snopes does this deliberately to keep those investigating the matter in the dark about the facts and surrounding the case however, President Trump’s recent Executive Order seeking to cease the separation of families has shined a new light on the very circumstance Snopes is saying doesn’t exist.
Snopes is essentially saying that it is not a law nor a policy that forces the Administration to separate families. And they would be correct in that regard however, they do not tell readers that the administration must separate children from families as directed by a consent decree that arose from Flores v Reno. That consent decree is codified through the United States Supreme Court which means the United States government must abide by that agreement. Essentially, Snopes is claiming that the government is not mandated to enforce any laws thus, the government should not enforce laws that separate families upon conviction. Illogical to say the least.
The words “consent decree” and “codified” do not appear at all in their entire “fact-check” article. A real fact-checker that has a scintilla of objectivity would have mentioned the following: if the administration wishes to enforce the law, they are mandated to separate children from families as instructed under the Flores Agreement.
Snopes made no effort to inform their readers of court decisions that force the government to abide by agreements made between litigating parties. They pretended as if the only things that can direct the government’s hand is a “policy” or a “law”, which is patently false. Case precedent is a major mechanism that is commonly used to force the government into following certain remedial procedures when addressing similar cases that have previously been argued before the court. Snopes makes no mention of this nor do they attempt to do so. Clearly they do this to validate liberal ideals since the facts are not on their side of the argument. Snopes makes no mention that the government MUST abide by a consent decree they have previously agreed to.
In fact, Snopes is insinuating that the Administration is not mandated to separate children from adult family members when they truly are, if we are to enforce the laws. Of course we want to enforce the laws. Not doing so only attracts more people to break the law.
Correcting the Record
Here is the problem that the Trump Administration inherited from numerous previous administrations.
People that are caught illegally crossing the border for a second time or more are charged with a felony, only first offenses are considered a misdemeanor. They will typically be prosecuted for attempting to illegally cross the United States border. Many of these people have children in tow. As a result of the parent having to serve a sentence for being found guilty of a felony, they are separated from their child and they serve their sentence. After the parents are released from detention, they are reunited with their child and deported from the United States. The children that are separated from their parents are typically sent to be with a relative. If there is no relative, then Health and Human Services (HHS) will care for the children until the parent is released from detention. This happens to Americans inside the United States each and every day of each and every year.
As a result of ginned up outrage on behalf of liberals, President Trump signed an Executive Order that stops the separation of children from their families and requested that new facilities be built as to house the families together while the parent serves their term for violating United States border laws. If the detention is longer than 20 days, which it typically is due to prior criminal history on previous illegal entry attempts, then the Executive Order is in violation of the Flores Agreement since the child will be held for longer than 20 days.
Even if we were to give the parent ‘time served’ and tell them the entire family will be immediately deported within 20 days, it will not work if the parent then makes a claim for asylum. They may not have a case that comes close to resembling a need for asylum however, the immigration laws state that they MUST have their cases heard.
The Immigration and Nationality Act state that an interview must be conducted within 45 days after an application for asylum is first filed and a decision must be made on that application within 180 days after the date the application was filed, unless there are exceptional circumstances. It is highly likely that these dates are much further out than what is stated by the Immigration and Nationality Act since illegal entry numbers have sky rocketed thus making the situation an “exceptional circumstance.” Obviously, parents would have to be separated from their child according to the Flores Agreement when applying for asylum.
The Executive Order that President Trump signed violates the Flores Agreement and the Administration will most certainly lose the challenge brought by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, which means more families will be separated at the border again once a decision is rendered in the challenge.
The Democrats asked the President to end family separations and he does through Executive Order, then they challenge that Executive Order in court as a clear violation of the Flores Agreement. You see, we cannot enforce our border laws AND keep families together at the same time without violating case precedent which is the Flores Agreement. The only other option short of Congress passing legislation is to return to catch and release, which polling data suggests is not a popular policy among voters. Rasmussen issued a new poll on June 21 which showed that 54% of voters agree with President Trump’s statement that “the United States will not be a migrant camp. And it won’t be a refugee holding facility – it won’t be.”
The ‘Zero-Tolerance’ policy the Trump Administration enacted in May of 2018 only states that all border laws will be enforced and all illegal entry attempts will be prosecuted. In essence, for Democrats in Congress to be asking for the policy to end while touting the Flores Agreement they are asking President Trump to ignore enforcing border laws all together. This is not an option that protects the sovereignty of the United States of America which means this is not an option this President will pursue.
There are two ways to fix this issue. One is that Democrats come to the table and negotiate with their counterparts to hammer out an immigration deal however, Democratic leadership in both the House and the Senate have signaled they will continue to obstruct by refusing to engage with Republicans. The other option is to not enforce border laws, which the current administration does not see as an option. This is why Attorney General Jeff Sessions decided file a request with the U.S. District Court for the District of California in order to modify the settlement agreement reached in Flores v. Sessions, CV85-4544 (Flores settlement), in such a way that would permit to detain alien families together throughout the criminal proceedings regarding improper entry, removal, or any other immigration proceeding.
It is extremely rare to see courts make changes to consent decrees at the behest of one of the two parties involved in the agreement, so there is ample reason to believe this will be rejected by the courts. It remains crystal clear. The most viable option to adequately change the practice of separating families at the border is for Congress to act however, Democrats have been clear that they have no desire to fix the problem. They only wish to complain about it while they have all the power needed to fix it. Power and influence is what Democrats are after, not family reunification. This is nothing more than an attempt to gin up a midterm election issue that Democrats can tout as they canvass their district. They use these children as pawns on their political chess board while accusing their counterparts of their own intolerance.