Illegal migrants’ use of children to fraudulently claim to be a family unit is not new. We’ve reported on this before (see “Aliens Use Kids for Fraud” from November 28 ). Yesterday, the El Paso Times examined a current case of such fraud, where a child claimed by an adult migrant proved, upon questioning, not only to be unrelated to that adult but also to have been fraudulently claimed at least twice before by other adults.
No one knows how widespread the practice is, but it is sufficiently common to have acquired a name: “recycling.” Migrant-smuggling gangs have learned that the company of a minor child can be a virtual guarantee of U.S. residence for an illegal border crosser, given the current “catch-and-release” policy of the U.S. Border Patrol and Department of Homeland Security.
Groups supporting illegal migrant entry of course pooh-pooh the contention that recycled children play a major role in migrant fraud, but Acting Department of Homeland Security head Kevin McAleenan says it’s a growing trend. “We’ve uncovered child recycling rings where the same child is brought across the border multiple times, with a different adult to try to gain that release family units are required under court orders,” says McAleenan.
A tip-off that a child may not be as he or she is represented is that, historically, minor children were typically accompanied by their mothers. Today, many young male adults, unaccompanied by women, are showing up at the border with one or more children they claim as their own. Border Patrol agents regard such cases as suspicious and have begun carefully questioning both adult and child to determine their relationship, if any.
Since October, no fewer than 78,976 “family units” have been apprehended by Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande valley alone.
For more, see “HSI investigates fake family units illegally entering U.S.,” a video report from valleycentral.com.