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Kyrsten Sinema’s ‘Operation Safe Return’ is a good effort but won’t work to slow migrants

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Kyrsten Sinemas Operation Safe Return is a good effort but wont work to slow migrants

Any time a Democrat makes an effort to do something tangible to stop illegal immigration, it’s praiseworthy. Today’s Democratic Party is not only devoid of a plan to slow the migrant surge or end the border crisis. Many are doing what they can to make the problem bigger by pretending it isn’t a problem at all. This is why it’s refreshing to see Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema psuh for “Operation Safe Return.”

The proposal would set rules that would expedite the removal of migrant family units who do not demonstrate a “credible fear” of persecution. It’s a complex, multi-stage plan that sets time limits on how soon migrant families are interviewed and tightens the criteria for them to be released to the interior.

What it does not do is make changes to the Flores Agreement, which enables family units to be released quickly from detention once they file for asylum. This rule is dangerous to the children involved because it makes them a hot commodity for those wanting to move quickly into the interior of the country. Children are being used as “tickets” and are being sold to or rented by illegal immigrants.

Sinema’s plan doesn’t address this, but does go after “economic migrants” which likely accounts for the vast majority of those crossing the border illegally. Our asylum rules do not allow for those seeking better opportunities in America to claim asylum simply because they cannot get a good job in their home country.

According to The Arizona Republic:

The program would allow the Department of Homeland Security to deport certain migrants within 15 days, according to the letter, and would help alleviate overcrowding at border facilities, Sinema said.

“This pilot program would apply to families who aren’t claiming ‘credible fear,’ which of course is the first threshold in seeking asylum,” Sinema told The Arizona Republic. “If someone says ‘I left my country because I can’t make a living,’ (or) ‘it’s hard to take care of my family’ — that’s what we call an economic migrant.”

Sinema is one of the main architects behind the proposed program, along with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Sinema said she came up with the idea for the pilot program in response to a meeting with White House and Trump administration officials who she said were focused on changing asylum laws and challenging court rulings like the Flores Settlement Agreement, dictating how the government treats certain migrants.

“I just felt those weren’t the right answers,” Sinema added. “We wanted to solve the problem. We wanted to protect the asylum process for valid applicants … and we want to respect the Flores decision.”

This is a nice attempt, but here’s the problem. Word will continue to spread that migrants should not claim economic hardship as their reason for filing for asylum. They are being given talking points about their status that include saying they’re being persecuted because of their beliefs. This is easy to say and difficult to prove, making it the easy path through which migrant families can come to America and be released to the interior three weeks later.

The proposal has been delivered to acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan for review. It was signed by Sinema and Johnson as well as five Republican and two Democratic Senators.

This is a stopgap plan that may slow the migrant surge and expedite deportations on a small scale, but eventually it will become worthless. Sinema deserves credit for trying, but we need bolder measures if we’re going to make a dent in the border crisis.

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