12-Year-Old Drug Smuggler Reignites Immigration Debate

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, December 27, 2013

The U.S. Border Patrol earlier this month arrested a 12-year-old illegal immigrant smuggling 80 pounds of marijuana from Mexico into Texas, reigniting a debate over controversial comments made by a Republican congressman earlier this year about children’s involvement in the cross-border drug trade.

Rep. Steve King, an Iowa Republican who has called for a crackdown on illegal immigration, had said there were more young illegal immigrants smuggling drugs than there were ones who were valedictorians of their classes in U.S. high schools.

In the Texas incident earlier this month, Border Patrol agents arrested six Mexicans—two adults, two 17-year-olds, a 16-year-old and the 12-year-old—smuggling more than 300 pounds of marijuana.

“They were carrying the marijuana on their backs and when arrested it was discovered that the 12-year-old boy had the heaviest load at 80 pounds,” the Border Patrol said in a statement describing the arrest.

The adults and one of the 17-year-old children were held after the early December incident, but the others—including the 12-year-old—were returned to Mexico, the Border Patrol said.

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Mr. King’s critics included everyone from the New Yorker magazine to late-night comics to House Speaker John A. Boehner, who called the comments “hateful or ignorant.”

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