Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen is alarmed at the increasing trend of illegal aliens fraudulently claiming children as their own in order to enter the U.S. Unfortunately, the recent budget deal does nothing to stop or even to slow the problem.
“I’m sad to say that from October 2017 to this February, we have seen a staggering 315 percent increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country,” Nielsen said.
In some instances, the same child was employed multiple times to cross the border. But that made no impression on The New York Times which pooh-poohed the secretary’s concern, noting that such cases represented “a tiny fraction of the total number of families apprehended at the southwestern border.”
While not disputing DHS’s numbers, the Times notes that context is important. So how many incidents of fraud and child endangerment would the paper find acceptable? How confident can Americans be that every offender is being caught? With more minors being caravaned to the border, these are not idle questions.
Carl McClafferty, associate chief for intelligence at the U.S. Border Patrol, tracked down one child recycling ring and found a woman who was being paid $1,500 per child to collect them from the U.S. and take them back to Guatemala to be used in future migration efforts.
“She claimed to do this 13 times,” McClafferty said. “We found out they were recycling these children.”
Since the start of the fiscal year, in the Border Patrol’s Yuma Sector alone, agents identified 260 false family units involving aliens who did not truthfully disclose their familial relationships, according to the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
DHS has linked the increase in fraudulent families to the Flores v. Reno Settlement, which limits the time that minors can be detained. Children are often released with their “parents” pending an immigration court hearing. With their logjammed dockets, immigration courts have the highest failure-to-appear rates in the nation.
The new budget bill does not address any of this, and might even make matters worse. Critics point out that no funds may be used to detain or deport any “sponsor” or “potential sponsor” of an “unaccompanied alien child.” The measure states that any “member of a household” or “potential sponsor” is now immune from deportation.
DHS avers that terms like “potential sponsor” have precise meanings that strictly limit the number of people the budget bill keeps safe from deportation. We shall see.
Meantime, CIS’s Andrew Arthur offers a commonsense idea: Fingerprint and photograph all minors apprehended by the Border Patrol.
“The U.S. government would be able to quickly identify any child who had been ‘recycled,’ and would also be better able to track any child who was discovered to have been trafficked in the United States,” Arthur says.
Better yet, the fingerprint-photograph protocol wouldn’t require any action by Congress, which appears content to slumber as the border chaos continues.