The issue of illegal alien crime is rearing its ugly head again, this time exposing another loophole in U.S. immigration law. According to a report in the Washington Examiner, two members of the violent MS-13 gang recently arrested for the beating of two high school students in New York were ordered released from ICE custody last year, because they were unaccompanied minors when they entered the U.S. Both suspects crossed the border in 2016, but because of their status as unaccompanied minors they were released to family members. After being arrested for gang activity in the U.S., the two were again released last summer because they were under 18 when they entered the country two years earlier.
Ira Mehlman with the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) says this exposes a loophole in a federal law meant to prevent trafficking of minors across the border. "This law was not supposed to provide an avenue for people to get into the country claiming to be under 18 and taking advantage of our judicial system," he tells KTRH. "It was intended to actually protect people are were being trafficked."
Instead, violent criminals and gang members can use this law to essentially get de facto asylum in the U.S. "They get into the country and they can pursue a lengthy process to try to remain here in this country, even if they have no real valid claim," says Mehlman. "And in the case of these criminals (in New York), their court dates aren't even for several years off, even though they've already been in the country for a couple of years to begin with."
Essentially, cases like this expose a flawed immigration system that needs to be fixed. But that can only be done by Congress, which is unlikely to do any such thing in its current gridlocked state. "I mean, we can't even get the government back open, they can't even agree on that," says Mehlman. "We have three branches of government, one of them has ceased to function almost entirely, and that's not the way the system is supposed to work."