It's been reported everywhere --The New York Times, The Washington Post, Fox News -- that the William Wilberforce Sex Trafficking Act requires that any non-Mexican children who show up on our border be admitted and given a hearing. (New York Times, July 7, 2014: "Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking.")
The problem, we've been told, is that a loophole in the sex trafficking law mandates these hearings -- or "removal proceedings."
But there is no such loophole.
The fact that people on both sides of the aisle are telling the same lie about this law is worrisome. Are Republicans being tricked into thinking we need an emergency bill, so that, two weeks later, we'll see them emerging from a conference, saying:
We fixed the loophole! We didn't get everything we wanted, but you can hear about that later.
No, tell me now.
Well, remember amnesty? It's kind of in this bill. But the headline is: We closed the loophole! So no more worries about that loophole. But yeah, amnesty passed.
Why else would everyone be carrying on about a non-existent loophole? I know they're mistaken because I read the law.
The Wilberforce law states, in relevant part:
"Any unaccompanied alien child sought to be removed by the Department of Homeland Security, except for an unaccompanied alien child from a contiguous country (i.e. Mexico -- or Canada, so as not to sound discriminatory) ... shall be -- placed in removal proceedings ... eligible for relief ... at no cost to the child and provided access to counsel."
Obviously, that's the whole ball of wax. Once a kid is in, given La Raza attorneys and a hearing date, he's never going home. No immigration judge is going to listen to a lawyer-manufactured sob story and say, "No, I'm sorry, that didn't touch my heart. You have to go back to Huehuetenango."
But the law's definition of "unaccompanied alien child" limits the hearings to kids who have no relatives in the United States. If your relatives live here, the law assumes you're not being sex-trafficked -- you're trying to join them.
Here's the definition -- note subsection (C):
"(2) the term 'unaccompanied alien child' means a child who --