What Can be Done to Help Unaccompanied Migrant Minor Children?

The U.S. witnessed a 21 percent increase in unaccompanied minors attempting to cross the southern border.  
These children are generally unaware of U.S. Immigration regulations, traveling alone or with a human trafficker, sometimes being manipulated, working for drug smugglers, or led by traffickers and cartels making promises that cannot be kept.  The result is that most cannot be legally admitted to the United States.  While many families send their children on alone, or with smugglers or traffickers, in our piece, Are We There Yet? Immigration Reform for the Best Interests of Children, Berkeley La Raza L. J. (2013)(reprinted Regent J. Int’l L. (2013)), we discuss solutions for children which focus on trying to protect these kids.  Here are just two:
1) Immigration authorities apply the state’s best interests of the child standard:
Requiring immigration officials to apply the host state’s best interest of the child statutes in federal immigration proceedings is a realistic policy proposal immigration advocates should strive to achieve, as is largely already occurring. Immigration judges could use their judicial discretion to apply the local state’s best interests of the child standard.  Immigration judges work to consult the judges and officials of local family courts in order to ensure they apply the standard correctly.
2) Implement federal-state cooperation in immigration proceedings:
Too often conflict, rivalry, and competition characterize the posture between state and federal governments in immigration conflicts. Cooperation between ICE, state child welfare services agencies, and state family courts would strongly serve the best interests of the children whose families are involved in immigration proceedings. Such measures would allow for state child welfare agencies to facilitate more effective family reunification processes, which would reduce a portion of the burden on both federal and state child welfare funds.
These are just two of our many suggested solutions.  Helpful measures like these can occur, and are happening in many places already, but these solutions are also thwarted by sanctuary city or state status, causing what may have been intended for good to actually work to the harm of children, placing them at grave risk for human trafficking, and pitting state and federal officials against each other, with children caught in between.
To learn more about the harms – and the solutions - facing children in America’s immigration crisis download  Immigration Reform for the Best Interests of Children.


Millennial Marriage Evolution??

What do millennials want?

Purpose?  A meaningful life? Wealth? Children? Happily ever after? 

How about all of the above – and generally in that order.

The rules for how to get there, however, are changing for millennials, by their own acts and omissions, and the latest article by Kathleen E. Akers and Lynne Marie Kohm entitled Solving Millennial Marriage Evolution, published at 48 U. Balt. L. Rev. 1 (2018), discusses all of these perspectives.  Download it now here.   Here is a bit of what it analyzes:

          Marital incentives and disincentives have changed for millennial Americans, impacting their economic and family decisions, while also creating a ripple effect in society, dividing the rich and the poor in new and profound ways creating an income inequality gap.  Millennial prerogative on the high end of this income inequality gap has decreased the incentives of marriage while simultaneously decreasing the number of couples committing to the permanency of marriage despite their age and available resources.  On the lower end of this gap, childbearing outside of marriage is common, and unemployment makes the economic gap all the wider, creating greater inequality between women and men, rich and poor. These aspects have worked together causing new marriage norms to develop in American society which are particularly being reflected in the millennial generation.  Evolving social trends have produced highly educated and wealthy women who are marrying and having children much later in life, while concurrently minimizing marriageable men at the lower end of the income inequality gap because of chronic unemployment, a lack of education, incarceration, and substance abuse, leaving a larger group of women at the high end of the socioeconomic spectrum with a smaller group of comparable men across the board.  Predictably, the effects of these associations are impacting the future of family stability in current and future generations.  Because a formidable connection exists between the legal and economic incentives and the economic success of intimate associations, we analyze marriage as an economic market affected by supply, demand, consumer preferences, and constraints to work toward a meaningful analysis of efficiency and human capital. In the context of human socio-legal connections, we analyze scholarship, data, and recent information from surveyed millennials to propose incentives and solutions to this growing concern.

Part I examines the millennial desire for employment, financial security, and education as well as the impact these desires have on decisions toward marriageability.  It considers the rise in numbers of single Americans, data illuminating how to define millennials, and evidence indicating that they are not convinced happiness is found in marriage.  Part II examines the legal incentives and economic connections between intimate associations and economic success.  It analyzes the economics behind America’s marriage decline, the effects of online dating and new forms of human romantic connection, and the effects of childbearing and child-rearing on national family strength.  Finally, Part III combines those discussions to consider the dependence of national economic success on current and future marital commitments, offering proposals to improve family stability nationally through marital strength.  In this section we proffer that the solution to incentivizing marriage for millennials may be increasing an understanding of the connection between prestige and parenthood, thereby effectively reconnecting parenthood with marriage.  This connection, particularly with respect to the human capital of children, may provide positive links between marriage, sex, family, and overall social benefits for both ends of the income inequality gap. We also suggest legislation to incentivize this connection to work toward solving the income inequality gap currently evident in millennial marriages.

      By examining this millennial marriage evolution and exploring the likely future effects of these shifting elements on America, this article works to analyze legal and economic incentives toward increasing marriage stability, parenting toward human capital, and overall family strength. Sounds a lot like family restoration for the millennial generation.


Federal Judge Rules FGM Prohibition Unconstitutional

The United States Congress recently created legislation to protect girls and women from female genital mutilation (FGM), a form of physical, sexual and social abuse, largely accomplished by religious and cultural bullying.  But last week a federal judge in Ohio ruled that the ban on female genital mutilation is unconstitutional, applying an apparent religious freedom and state authority context.  The New York Post reported that District Judge Bernard Friedman said “’Congress overstepped its bounds’ by outlawing the practice known as female circumcision, or cutting. Friedman said it was up to states rather than Congress to regulate the practice.” 

Because FGM is a surgical genital wound, doctors were indicted with mutilation and conspiracy charges for performing the surgery, despite their awareness and knowledge of the federal prohibition.  The ruling will likely face appeal.

No child in the world should ever be subject to FGM. A horrendous form of domestic violence that enjoys widespread cultural acceptance, FGM is a violent cultural practice of physical mutilation of girls by painful genital cutting that continues its repressive physical, psychosocial and psychological effects for a lifetime. See Alexi Nicole Wood, A Cultural Rite of Passage or a Form of Torture: Female Genital Mutilation from an International Law Perspective, 12 Hastings Women’s L. J. 347, 362-67 (2007) (discussing those immediate and long term effects as international human rights violations).  The Convention on the Rights of the Child prohibits it because of it does not promote the health of children

Much of the seemingly social attachment to FGM is long-standing gender repressive cultural practice, implicating the conflict between the recognition of international human rights and the principle of cultural sovereignty, with social and political implications.   See Leigh A. Trueblood, Female Genital Mutilation: A Discussion of International Human Rights Instruments, Cultural Sovereignty and Dominance Theory, 28 Denv. J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 437, 441 (2000). Scholars have asserted the adoption of measures to fight FGM by shifting the culture of female circumcision toward actively involving African and Middle Eastern women in the effort.  See John Tochukwu Okwubanego, Female Circumcision and the Girl Child in Africa and the Middle East: The Eyes of the World Are Blind to the Conquered, 33 Int'l Law. 159, 159-60 (1999).  Yet, cultural justifications for its continuance are offered, despite its enormous negative health implications, and that is what apparently is occurring in the current federal case. 

Rather than cultural or religious or gender oppression, children deserve protection within their families and their governments from female genital mutilation.


Designer Babies?

Designer babies is what the media is calling the claim of genetically modified babies in China
“He Jiankui, an American-educated scientist based in Shenzhen, announced on Monday that he’d used Crispr, a powerful gene-editing tool, to make recently-born twin girls resistant to HIV. …Whatever the veracity of He’s claims, it’s likely that China, with its aggressively entrepreneurial startups and less stringent regulation, will be the country where researchers most rapidly test the currently-accepted boundaries of genetic manipulation. That presents its leaders with a dilemma: Whether to follow the U.S. and Europe in strictly regulating its application, or take a more hands-off approach, catalysing rapid innovation in a strategic industry at the cost of what could be serious risks to patients.” 
The major concern is that some scientists will bypass ethical jurisdictions, and will work to relate the technology to many applications.  China might be an obvious place to do such experimentation in light of its population concerns, but could the American researchers also venture into this new realm, if they haven’t already?  A Harvard researcher has already suggested as much to create healthier humans.
What are the relevant legal issues and DNA concerns?  Are Designer Babies in Test Tubes and Microbes Replacing Romance? 
In our article Designer Babies: Are Test Tubes and Microbes Replacing Romance?  Relevant Legal Issues and DNA, 16 Am. J. Forensic Medicine & Pathology 1 (1995)(with Kathleen A. Miller)we discuss these matters in detail, challenging an approach from a Christian perspective that honors God and His people.  It is a bit of prescience from 1995, but worth consideration as science and technology pushes the boundaries of human families in novel and daunting ways.


Count Your Family Blessings...Literally!

This Thanksgiving count your family blessings.  Then add to those the benefits we have all received over this past year in the form of legal protections for children and families.  The Family Policy Alliance has listed some below.  Family restoration is possible not only in every family but even in our nation.   
Thanksgiving Visit
Count Your Blessings…Literally!
Count your blessings name them one by one, as encouraged in this familiar hymn from the late 1800's:
When upon life's billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will keep singing as the days go by.

This Thanksgiving season there are specifics for which we can be thankful:

2 Conservative justices who have records for upholding the rule of law are now sitting on the Supreme Court
Senators confirmed Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh to our highest Court.
2 more prolife, conservative Senators in the U.S. Senate! After the November 6 election, the Senate had a net gain of two seats to make it a more prolife, conservative body.
For example, North Dakota voters replaced a supporter of late-term abortions with a new pro-family, prolife Senator.
2 new major religious freedom laws. This year, both Kansas and Oklahoma passed laws protecting religious freedom for faith-based adoption agencies. These laws ensure that the faith-based agencies can continue to serve the children and birth
moms in their states according to their faith—without fear that their state governments could force them to close down.
52 Christian Statesmen have been trained through
The Family Policy Alliance's sister Foundation's Statesmen Academy® and will be serving in Congress or state legislatures across the country in January 2019. These Christian men and women have been trained in the legislative art of patience and persistence, unwavering principles, and passionate, respectful advocacy. In other words, they are lawmakers who will stand on principle and advocate effectively for family values as Christian leaders called to serve in public office in 2019!
Federal changes have worked to end Obama-era rules that define "sex" in federal law to include "gender identity"—leading to harmful policies especially for women and children, confusion in the law, and even threats to religious freedom. The Department of Education and Justice ended the "transgender mandate" on schools. The Department of Defense concluded that the military transgender mandate threatened military readiness and was too costly. The Federal Bureau of Prisons wisely returned to first considering a prisoner's biological sex rather than gender identity—when housing a prisoner. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has been working to protect religious freedom and conscience rights for healthcare professionals.
As God has blessed our nation, may your family experience God's hand of blessing this holiday. 

Paul Weber, President & CEO
Family Policy Alliance is a
Public Policy Partner of Focus on the Family
866.655.4545 - 8655 Explorer Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
© Family Policy Alliance


Is Marriage a Covenant or a Contract? Inquiring Law Students Want to Know

Some law students at Regent Law were recently discussing whether marriage is a covenant or a contract.  The answers were a bit humorous and ranged from taxes to house work:

“I don’t think it’s either really. It’s just a piece of paper that doesn’t matter. Only helps for tax reasons lol”
“It depends on what perspective is being looked at. If it’s for religious reasons it’s a covenant, if it’s the law, it is a contract.”
“To me both are the same thing. Just using different words. They both are an agreement to stay with that person.”
“… from Regent's perspective it is a covenant.”
“Well simply stated a contract can be broken and covenant (looking in the root of the word which is a will ) is till death.”
“Contract...is a legal obligation between two people...covenant is a religious contract between deity and follower.”
“There should be a contract saying if both bring money home both have to do house chores as well - women are not maids or slaves - that be my contract lol.”

So as Christian law students, how should we think about this?  At Regent Law, we begin most discussions by considering the Bible, and working to gain a biblical understanding of legal principles.  So let’s try that first….

The foundation (and the collapse) for marriage are laid out in the first three chapters of Genesis.  Here, the “covenant of marriage was grounded in the order of creation and governed by the law of God,” John Witte, Jr., From Sacrament to Contract: Marriage, Religions and Law in the Western Tradition 7 (1997), and then alienated by both woman and man in the fall.  God explicitly defines a covenant throughout the Old Testament with Abraham, with Noah, and with David, as a vertical promise between God and man that endures to death.  John Calvin used the doctrine of covenant to explain not only the vertical relationship between God and man but also the horizontal relationship between husband and wife.  He argued that just as God draws the believer into a covenant relationship with him, so God draws a husband and a wife into a covenant relationship with each other, and with Him. So marriage is a covenant promise made in the presence of God and a community supporting the couple in that promise. 

So now let’s consider the law on marriage…

We begin by looking to the United States Supreme Court which has declared marriage to be “intimate to the point of being sacred.” Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479, 485 (1965): “We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights—older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.”  This language has been subsequently quoted in five additional Supreme Court opinions:

Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U.S. 374, 384 (1978); Smith v. Organization of Foster Families For Equality and Reform, 431 U.S. 816, 843-44 (1977); Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, 428 U.S. 52, 70, n.10 (1976); Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 179, 210 (1973) (mem.) (Douglas, J., concurring); and Warden, Md. Penitentiary v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 324 (1967) (Douglas, J., dissenting).  Therefore, religious views are also appropriate for advocates and judges to consider.  
A contract, as these law students worked to allude to, is the bargained for exchange between two capacitated parties.  The law will enforce agreements imposing obligations on people who enter into them.  This contact law became part of social philosophy when social contract political theory took root during the Enlightenment, and so did the idea that marriage is a personal contract, subject to the preferences of the parties and their personal rights.  Therefore, the law will enforce contracts between consenting adults who marry, and will view the marriage as a contract and a status.  This approach has grown to dominate thinking on family and marriage law today, as marital contracts, marital property and marital support are based in biblical foundations stemming from the oneness concept of marriage as a partnership, and will be enforced by the law.

Therefore, these historical threads of covenant and contract serve to demonstrate the deep theological roots of marriage law and confirm that, despite the relationships between people of faith and the state, theology and civil law, marriage as the foundation of society is a concept – and a reality --- that precedes both church and state, and is both a covenant and a contract. 
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Gender Identity Effects on Families

Gender dysphoria and the movement toward gender identity transition has hit families and children with a formidable force.  For years the biggest fallout from the growing transgender movement has been the debate over the use of private spaces, especially bathrooms and locker rooms, protection of which the Family Policy Alliance has been at the forefront.  Their work demonstrates that while that debate will continue, the demands are getting much broader. They look at recent events which reveal a stunning array of concerns related to the family:

1.      Assault: A kindergarten girl was recently assaulted in the girls' bathroom after a Georgia school allowed elementary school boys, who claim to have a transgender identity, into girls' bathrooms.

2.    Adult Entertainment in Educational Institutions: Libraries and schools across the country have drag queens, otherwise considered adult entertainment, to conduct children's story times.

3.     Keeping Information Secret from Parents: The New Jersey Department of Education recently directed schools to keep vital information about a child's gender identity secret from parents. When a parent has a disagreement with his or her child's gender identity choice, school staff are urged to review information on reporting child abuse by that parent against his or her child.

4.    Forced Intimate Services: A transgender-identifying man is suing a women's spa in Massachusetts for declining to give him a wax of his private body areas, using a court to force a female employee to provide intimate services to a man.

5.     Erasing Criminal Records: A man has sued to get a court to erase his criminal record. Now living life as a woman, he argues that his criminal conviction as a man discloses his gender identity change and is therefore unfair and discriminatory.

6.    Saving Money on Insurance: A man has admitted to lying by claiming to be a transgender female so that he could save money on car insurance.

The current federal government, however, has begun to pay attention to these concerns in three important areas: 

Prisons: The Federal Bureau of Prisons now averts placement of transgender inmates with the opposite biological sex to protect women from exposure to degradation, harassment, and assault.

Military: After intense study the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security have determined that admitting transgender-identifying individuals into the military was fundamentally unfair, cost prohibitive, and ultimately compromised the mission of the armed forces.
Schools: The current Department of Health and Human Services is working to make the law clear that sex is an unchangeable scientific fact.

These events reveal that a formidable movement toward national gender identity change is placing a great deal of pressure on children, parents, individuals and particularly families.  Informed families making good choices and parents who discuss these things with their children can make all the difference in handling these scenarios in the future.