Posted on March 24, 2006

Non-Mexican Migrants ‘Rent A Family’ to Avoid Deportation

Jerry Seper, Washington Times, March 24, 2006

Migrants sneaking illegally into the United States from countries other than Mexico are renting families — mostly small children — to ensure that if they are apprehended, they won’t be deported, but released back into the United States, a top immigration official said yesterday.

The “rent-a-family” scheme, said John P. Torres, director of the Office of Detention and Removal at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is being used by alien smugglers along the U.S.-Mexico border — mainly in Texas — to circumvent a new expedited-removal program for non-Mexican aliens, whose arrest under existing deportation policies had become known as “catch-and-release.”

“They are passing themselves off as a family, paying to have children smuggled with them across the border, because the smugglers know we’re not going to break up a family for the deportation process,” Mr. Torres said. “They’re renting babies — the younger the better — including those not yet of speaking age.

“They get processed as a family and released together, under the law, pending an immigration hearing,” Mr. Torres said.

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Illegal aliens from Mexico are usually returned across the border within hours if they have no criminal record, and while U.S. immigration authorities — facing a flood of illegal aliens — have not been hesitant to subject individual OTMs to the expedited-removal process, they have been reluctant to break up non-Mexican migrant families because of a lack of detention space to house them as a unit.

“This rent-a-family scheme is simply an effort to defeat the expedited-removal program because it is working,” Mr. Torres said.

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