The immigration situation at the United States border with Mexico is getting worse, not better, according to border control officials. Thousands of immigrants are streaming north from their violent and impoverished Latin American countries to apply for asylum or enter the United States illegally.
New numbers released by U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) chief Carla Provost paint an alarming picture: due to a legal loophole and lack of holding facilities, migrants are using trafficked children to ensure their release into the interior United States. A Twitter message sent May 8, 2019, from Provost said:
“In April, Border Patrol apprehended an average of over 2,400 families and children EACH DAY and ICE & HHS lack the capacity to keep up. Because of these capacity issues, USBP has had to directly release more than 33,000 people since March 19.”
Chief Provost has alerted members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate to the significance of these statistics:
“I informed Congress today that our apprehension numbers are off the charts. As of April 30, we’ve apprehended over 460k people on the [Southwest Border]. Only 7 months into the fiscal year & we have surpassed the TOTAL southern border apprehensions of every year since 2009!”
Provost went on to disclose that she testified that, “for the first time in Border Patrol history, nearly 1/2 of the adults we caught in April brought children.”
This fact is important because “Migrants know single adults will be detained, but that if they bring a child, they will be released. Congress must address these vulnerabilities.”
Matthew T. Albence, Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director, echoed Provost’s concerns and called the high number of false family claims “staggering.” He said that, for every ten migrant groups interviewed at the border, three of them submit false family claims. These interviews are a new tactic designed to weed out imposters, explained Albence:
“We’ve got teams in seven different locations who are conducting interviews of people who appear to be fraudulent families or where we have concerns that they are not who they say they are.”
On April 30, an ICE press release reported that the migrant family fraud rate was closer to 1-in-4 rather than 3-in-10:
“Of 100 interviews conducted this month, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) special agents say they found evidence of fraud in more than 25 percent of family unit claims.
Migrants are using forged birth certificates or other fraudulent documents to establish parentage. Adult illegal aliens are using similar forged or fraudulent documents to make the false claim they are minor under the age of 18 years old.
ICE concluded that the high number of bogus family groups applying for entry to the U.S. understand how to “exploit loopholes in immigration laws to enter the U.S. and avoid detention.”
Albence said that ICE agents have reported processing the same children on multiple occasions with different alleged family groups:
“It’s obviously troubling that these children that we see time and time again are being recycled by these criminal organizations. They are being brought into this country in terrible conditions. They are being used by some unknown adult in most cases just for the purpose of allowing that adult to be released because they know we can’t hold them. The children are then sent back to their home country and utilized again.”
In the first week of border interviews with groups providing familial documentation, a 7-year-old Guatemalan girl was identified as a trafficking victim: “her mother rented her three times in the past year to be brought here to this country so that the adult can be released.”
After unrelated people pretending to be families are released into the U.S., the victimized child is either sent home on an airplane or crossed back illegally into Mexico where buses take them back to their home country – only to be rented out again.
Since April 16, ICE dispatched three teams of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents to the El Paso Sector to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials maintain law and order in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. Three additional teams deployed on April 22 to the Rio Grande Valley, Del Rio, Yuma, and El Centro Border Patrol Sectors.
In all, 22 teams are now stationed at seven locations along the U.S. southern border.
Albence indicated that the Flores decision and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act passed in 2008 require U.S. officials to release migrant families before the time period allowed to conduct effective asylum claim investigations.
According to Albence, changing these laws would vastly reduce the number of fraudulent family claims at Mexican border ports of entry:
“If they changed the laws to allow us to detain these families as a unit together for a short period of time as we go through the immigration process, this would almost stop. It happened before when we set up family detention in 20014-15 the numbers plummeted. The same thing would happen again.”
Albence blamed extensive, transnational criminal organizations and cartels with members operating in the U.S. and abroad for the surge in child trafficking at the nation’s southern border.
“Our primary goal is to protect the security of these children. We’re trying to tell Congress that there is a humanitarian crisis — young children are being trafficked and abused along the way,” the ICE director explained.
“We had one case where a man had a child who was not his and was repeatedly raping her, sexually abusing her, and impregnating her. These are not good people. There’s a lot of criminals that are in the mix of these people who are coming in illegally.”
This week, federal immigration officials will begin using a “rapid DNA” genetic testing program in two migrant processing locations. This new test can identify a parent-child relationship in 90 minutes.
U.S. border officials agree that it will take Congressional action to ease the tense conditions that are getting worse as migrants continue to surge northward toward the Promised Land.