Crenshaw bill would allow longer custody of migrant minors, mandate DNA testing of families

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FIRST ON FOX: Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, is introducing legislation that would extend the time minors who illegally enter the U.S. can be held in custody, while also mandating the DNA testing of migrant families — as a way to stop children being used by adults to quickly enter the U.S.

The Flores Settlement Update and Establishment Act of 2022 would change the 1997 Flores Settlement, which limited the amount of time unaccompanied migrant children could be held at the border to 72 hours. That settlement, which was partly codified into law by the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), would later be expanded to include minors who came as part of family units.

This leads to a situation where adults who arrived illegally at the border with children are also released into the U.S., when the adults would not be if they arrived by themselves.

Immigration hawks and border officials have warned that this incentivizes the flow of unaccompanied children and migrant family units — as migrants know they will often be released into the U.S. It has also raised concerns about child exploitation, as migrants claim to be related to children to gain access to the U.S.

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Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, is introducing legislation to reform the asylum system.

Representative Dan Crenshaw, a Republican from Texas, is introducing legislation to reform the asylum system. (Photographer: Anna Moneymaker/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Children are being exploited to take advantage of our immigration system because of the perverse incentives that exist in current law. It’s cruel to children and it’s fueling the border crisis, and it needs to change. That’s why I proposed a bill to modify the Flores settlement.” Crenshaw said in a statement to Fox News Digital.

Crenshaw’s bill would amend the TVPRA to extend the amount of time a minor can be held from 72 hours to 120 days. Additionally, to reduce the exploitation of minors, the bill would require the DNA testing of family units to ensure there is a familial relation.

Additionally, it would require the referral of adults falsely claiming to have family ties to a child for prosecution, and would bar sponsors for UACs who are in the country illegally, who are not related, or who have certain criminal convictions. 

Finally, the bill would put forward guidelines to treat minors with gang affiliations as adults.

“My bill would act as a deterrent to sending unaccompanied minors on the dangerous journey to our borders, require DNA testing of any family units crossing the border, and prohibit those who have broken our laws from becoming custodians of these children,” Crenshaw said.

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It is the latest piece of legislation put forward by the Texas congressman aimed at reforming the border and asylum system as a way to combat the continuing crisis at the southern border. 

Last week he introduced legislation that would would remove language in immigration law that allows asylum claims at the southern border to be made between ports of entry, and would also exclude those who have entered the country illegally.

The legislation would also authorize the establishment of designated asylum offices abroad, including at the embassies and consulates in Mexico, where migrants can make asylum claims. The bill states that if migrants are present in a country where one of these offices exists, they must make the claim there — instead of the U.S.

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On Friday, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced that there were more than 207,000 migrant encounters in June — the third month in a row that number has exceeded 200,000.

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