Immigration officials released more than 100,000 Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) apprehended at the border into the U.S. interior since Fiscal Year 2016. White House officials state that many of the family members of these minors–mostly from Central America–paid criminal organizations to smuggle their children to the United States.
In just over two years, federal law forced immigration officials released more than 100,000 UACs into the U.S., according to the White House. UACs are defined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection as migrants under the age of 18 who arrive at the border without an adult family member.
In Fiscal Year 2016, Border Patrol agents apprehended 52,147 UACs. The following year, agents apprehended an additional 42,146. During the first three months of FY2018, agents apprehended another 7,624, according to an Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) report obtained by Breitbart Texas.
Current law requires immigration officials to turn over UACs crossing the border to ORR officials within 72 hours. The ORR must then “promptly place them in the least restrictive setting in the best interest of the child,” White House Director of Surrogate and Coalitions Outreach Kelly Sadler wrote in an email provided to Breitbart Texas. This often forces the ORR to release the minors to “family members or other sponsors living in the United States.” Often times these are the same family members that paid drug cartels and other violent criminals to transport these minors to the U.S. Frequently, these family members are also illegally present in the U.S., Sadler stated.
After being released in the U.S. with an order to appear before an immigration judge, many fail to appear for their hearing date. During the past three fiscal years, 66 percent of all removal orders for UACs resulted from the UACs disappearing.
The UACs released into the U.S. place a tremendous financial burden on the states where they are released. The states must pick up the cost of educating these children. State taxpayers also pick up the tab for these children’s healthcare costs. The top three states receiving these children are California (17,401), Texas (15,953), and Florida (13,063).
“The surge of minors and families from Central America has been going on for nearly six years and shows no signs of abating,” CIS director of policy studies, Jessica Vaughan, told Breitbart Texas. “It is the most urgent border security issue that needs to be resolved.”
“The placement of these children has been a fiscal disaster for communities that have had to absorb them, mainly because of the impact on the schools, which have struggled to deal with the sudden arrival of so many ill-prepared kids, and no new funding,” Vaughan explained.
In June 2014 Breitbart Texas’ Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief Brandon Darby released a series of photographs from the federal government showing massive numbers of unaccompanied minors warehoused in shoddy detention facilities.
In addition to the more than 100,000 UACs released into the U.S. over the past 27 months, Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 167,000 Family Unit Aliens (FMUA) along the southwestern border with Mexico–mostly in Texas. Officials define FMUAs as “alien children who are accompanied by an adult claiming to be a relative or guardian.”
The growth of FMUA apprehensions soared by more than 625 percent over the past several months, Breitbart Texas reported.
“Nearly all of these Family Units are released into the interior of the United States because of unreasonably burdensome, judicially-imposed constraints on ICE’s authority to detain the entire family units as a result of recent rulings in the Flores consent decree litigation,” Kelly Sadler stated.
Most of the UACs and FMUAs traveled to the U.S. from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala.
These UACs and the minors who are part of the FMUA numbers are not only a financial burden to the states. Violent criminal gangs, such as MS-13, frequently prey on the minors and force them to participate in their criminal activities in the U.S. Federal records reveal that one-third of MS-13 gang members arrested by law enforcement in recent weeks could have been classified as UAC when they entered the U.S. illegally, Breitbart Texas reported in December 2017.
“Violent gangs have exploited the catch and release policies to bring in new foot soldiers,” Jessica Vaughan told Breitbart Texas. “The result has been a crime wave that has taken a big toll on the quality of life in communities in Texas, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, and other places.”
“We have identified hundreds of crimes by youths who entered as UACs who were affiliated with ms-13,” Vaughan continued. “The Department of Homeland Security now has a huge job to do to clean it up, but it needs help from Congress in the form of money and tweaks to the law so that these gang members do not get legalized in the amnesty Congress is so eager to pass.”
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, signed by President George W. Bush, prohibits immigration officials from returning UACs apprehended at the border to their home country. The White House is asking Congress to address this “often-exploited” law and to override the Flores consent decree that “curtails law enforcement’s ability to detain entire family units,” Kelly Sadler stated.
The White House is also considering a plan to remove these children from their family members who put them in danger by turning them over to criminal organizations in order to smuggle them into the U.S., Breitbart Texas reported in December.
“It’s cruel for parents to place the lives of their children in the hands of transnational criminal organizations and smugglers who have zero respect for human life and often abuse or abandon children,” Acting DHS Press Secretary Tyler Houlton said in a written statement. She explained the administration is committed to exploring “all possible measures” to protect children.