Posted on August 6, 2019

Children at Center of Booming Smuggling Industry

Charlotte Cuthbertson, Epoch Times, August 5, 2019

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Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents are uncovering thousands of such stories as smugglers and illegal aliens learn that a child is an adult’s ticket into the United States, due to legal loopholes.

In this case, the child didn’t have any family in the United States, and the man told agents he had planned to drop the boy off with an unknown male in Nebraska. “He also stated that smuggling fees are considerably less expensive when adults are traveling with a child,” according to case notes obtained by The Epoch Times. The man confessed when he was faced with a DNA test. He was charged with alien smuggling.

“By requiring the release of family units before the conclusion of immigration proceedings, seemingly well-intentioned court rulings and legislation are being exploited by transnational criminal organizations and human smugglers,” Matthew Albence, acting director for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said in a congressional hearing on July 25.

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Since mid-April when the HSI agents were deployed, more than 5,800 fake families have been discovered, according to Kevin McAleenan, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Almost 15 percent of all family units that Border Patrol agents refer to HSI have been found to be fraudulent.

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In cases such as these, most children are sent back to their families in their home countries, according to ICE. Some are also connected with family members in the United States.

The number of individuals within family units who Border Patrol has apprehended along the southern border so far this fiscal year reached more than 390,000 by the end of June. Another 37,500 presented at ports of entry without legal documentation. Averaged out, that’s close to 1,600 per day since Oct. 1, 2018.

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Of almost 17,000 asylum cases for family units completed since Sept. 24, 2018, only 142 were granted asylum relief by an immigration judge—less than 1 percent. Most (13,500) were ordered removed after failing to show up at their court hearing, according to data from the Justice Department. {snip}

The immigration court backlog currently sits at more than 900,000 cases.

Child Imposters

A new trend that agents are uncovering more frequently is that of child imposters—especially single adult males using false birth certificates to pass as unaccompanied minors.

Unaccompanied minors are generally transferred from Border Patrol custody to Health and Human Services within 72 hours, giving agents a short window to discover fraud.

HSI recently encountered a 23-year-old Honduran male who claimed, with a fake birth certificate, to be 17 when apprehended by Border Patrol. Since mid-April, HSI agents have discovered 71 such child imposters; 70 of whom have been accepted for prosecution.

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