This letter is a response to Terri Wonder's Your Turn column in the July 11 Indy.
The Flores Consent Decree holds that unaccompanied minors can't be held in federal detention facilities for longer than 20 days. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this would now apply to both accompanied and unaccompanied minors. Parents who enter this country illegally and then request asylum are processed as asylum-seekers, a process which typically takes much longer than 20 days, and which puts the parent in a federal prison/detention facility, which doesn't allow children per the Flores Consent Decree. Consequently, their children end up being separated from them after the 20-day period, or both the parent and child are released.
The law, as it currently stands, allows for either action to be taken. Nothing "evil" going on here, just change the law! Congress can solve the issue, should they find the personal courage to actually do the right thing by prosecuting attempts to illegally enter our country and to keep bona fide families together during the process.
Something to consider in all of this: What happens when a U.S. citizen, who is a single parent, is arrested and detained in jail or sent to prison? Unless family or friends can be found who are willing to take custody of their children they are turned over to the State/DHHS where they will likely be placed in foster care. What's happening at the border to illegals is nothing different. That doesn't make it right, but it's the best solution we have been able to come up with given there are in excess of 800,000 parents incarcerated in prison, who have over 1.7 million minor children (2007 figures). In 2016, over 20,000 such children were placed in foster care, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Something should be done to correct this as both the long-term and short-term impacts it can have on children are well documented and unquestionably detrimental to their overall health and well-being.
The question that should be asked, debated and resolved is whether President Trump is the cause or merely the symptom of a failing government? I would suggest that it is clearly the latter given the string of failures and misadventures this country has experienced over the past three to four decades. Term limits is an idea whose time is clearly now.
— Mike Endres
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