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Don’t Treat Migrants Over 15 As Children, Foreign Relations Expert Suggests

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A foreign relations expert suggested not treating migrants over 15 years old as children during a Thursday interview.

“One other idea, which is controversial, is don’t consider people, young people, if they’re over, say, 15, send back — or over 16,” Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Haass suggested treating 16 and 17-year-old migrants as adults, rather than unaccompanied children.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said unaccompanied migrant children who are under 18 years old and not travelling with a parent or legal guardian will not be turned away from the southern border, according to a March 16 statement. Mayorkas said that single adults and some families are being turned away at the border under Title 42. (RELATED: Lindsey Graham On Border Crisis: ‘Where Is AOC? Why Aren’t You At The Border?’)

Border apprehensions are set to reach a 20-year high, Mayorkas said in the statement. Troy Miller, the acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said March 15 that CBP encountered over 100,000 illegal immigrants in February.

Of those thousands of illegal immigrants, more than 19,000 traveled in families, Miller said.

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Haass suggested the U.S. help Mexico by supplying Mexican authorities with vaccines and reinvigorating the country’s economy, which he said is “easier said than done given their leadership.”

“A lot of people are coming, particularly adult men and those are typical migrants. And that’s because of in particular the economic differential, say between Mexico and the United States,” Haass said.

Haass said young people especially are fleeing Central America due to gangs and violence. The foreign relations expert said “a longer term problem” is helping those governments provide security, such as bolstering policing and penal systems.

“That’s a long term effort, so we should start it and any aid should be made conditional to these governments,” Haass said. “The problem is, some of them won’t accept aid on those terms.”

Haass noted the reluctance of Mexico’s government “to be seen cooperating with us.”

“The kinds of things we did in Columbia for years in many cases is just simply not on. These governments are not willing to be seen to be so close to the United States. So that means we’re gonna have pressure at the border and that’s where capacity to process asylum cases becomes important,” Haass said.

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