Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, June 5, 2019
Federal immigration officials assigned to the U.S.-Mexico border are seeing an uptick in the number of instances in which investigators have been able to identify unrelated migrants posing as families in an effort to evade immediate deportation after they have illegally crossed into the country.
From mid-April through May 31, Immigration and Customs Enforcement interviewed 1,126 people who claimed to be traveling with a family member when they were taken into custody. Of that group, 206 “fraudulent families” were found to have fabricated familial relations either by verbal statements or with bogus legal documents. A family consists of two or more people, according to ICE.
The agency uncovered 422 fraudulent paper documents or verbal claims in that six-week portion of its continuing investigation.
ICE presented 399 cases for prosecution to the Justice Department and has had 315 accepted.
A total of 58,000 people claiming to be part of a family crossed the border in April alone. Despite the small rate of unrelated families, ICE’s new acting Director Mark Morgan, said the trend must be addressed.
“I know you hear from all agencies about consequences — that’s the hallmark of the rule of law. It’s not enough to do great investigative work to uncover this. We have to work with DOJ to make sure we’re prosecuting these individuals who exploit kids — should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Morgan told reporters earlier this week.
ICE commenced a days-long pilot in May with ANDE, a DNA testing company that can be completed in 90 minutes and in remote locations, including on the border.
Approximately 30% of rapid DNA tests of migrants who were suspected of arriving at the southern border with children who weren’t theirs revealed the adults were not related to the children, the Washington Examiner reported last month.
Roughly 249,000 migrants of the total 460,000 people who were arrested for illegally crossing the southern border this fiscal year have claimed to be traveling with a family member were taken into custody between October and April.