Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told a U.S. House committee on Wednesday that human smugglers are “recycling” minors to enable adult migrants’ entry into the U.S.
“Smugglers and traffickers have caught on that the outdated laws, lack of resources, and bad court decisions effectively give them a free ticket into America,” Secretary Neilsen told the House Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday. “We have encountered recycling rings, where innocent young people are used multiple times to help aliens gain illegal entry. As a nation, we simply cannot stand for this.”
She testified that her agency witnessed a 620 percent increase in families, or those posing as families, who are apprehended at the U.S. border with Mexico.
United States Border Patrol Chief of Operations Brian Hastings told reporters during a Tuesday press conference that agents are finding large numbers of fraudulent familial claims.
“From April 2018 through February 2019 we have had almost 2,400 fraudulent claims of families,” the operations chief explained. “Of those fraudulent claims, some are people who claim they are under 18 and they’re not. Others have actually been fraudulent familial claims.”
So far this fiscal year, Border Patrol agents apprehended 136,150 migrants claiming to be family units and 26,937 people claiming to be unaccompanied minors, according to the February Southwest Border Migration Report released Tuesday afternoon. This is a total of 163,087 family unit aliens (FMUA) and unaccompanied minors so far this year. In all of Fiscal Year 2018, Border Patrol agents only apprehended 157,248, the 2018 Southwest Border Migration Report stated.
Breitbart News Border/Cartel Chronicles Director Brandon Darby previously warned this was a consequence of current immigration laws that allow people to stay in the U.S. if they have a child with them when they cross the border.
“If you come with a child you cannot be deported — by child we mean anybody under the age of 18,” Darby said in an interview on Breitbart News Sunday in February. This is basically telling human traffickers to attach a child to your migrant caravan and say that everybody that’s with that child is a family member, and you get in.”
“All they have to do is kidnap a baby and they get to live in the United States now,” he said. That’s all they have to do, is show up with a kidnapped baby. We have no way to prove it — we’re not DNA testing, we have no way to prove it.”
CBP officials previously told Breitbart News that they do not DNA test or fingerprint young children to establish or confirm their identity and familial relationship with the possessing migrant.
In July 2018, then Rio Grande Valley Sector Deputy Chief Patrol Agent Raul Ortiz told Fox News that they were seeing a growing number of migrants illegally crossing the border with children who were not their own.
During Fiscal Year 2018 Ortiz said they reported 600 instances where agents noticed fake documents being used in fraudulent family cases.
One month earlier, Secretary Neilsen told the National Sheriff’s Association, “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.”
She said that a shocking subset of those numbers involved children being “recycled” by human smugglers — in other words, they are used by different migrants seeking to enter the U.S. at different times by claiming a family relationship with the child.
In her testimony on Wednesday, Nielsen stated:
Historically, illegal aliens crossing into the United States were predominantly single adult males from Mexico, and they were generally removed within 48 hours if they had no legal right to stay. Now over 60 percent are family units and unaccompanied alien children, and 60 percent are non-Mexican. Many of these families are from the Northern Triangle countries (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador) and claim asylum, so they are released into the United States—as required by the Flores court decision—while they await a court date that can be years away. Only one in ten individuals from the Northern Triangle are ultimately granted asylum by an immigration judge. Unfortunately, when it comes time to remove the other 90 percent—who have been determined by an immigration judge to have no legal right to stay in the United States—they have absconded from their last known location. And we do not have sufficient resources to find and remove them.
Make no mistake: the problem is getting worse. The smugglers and traffickers have caught on, realizing this is a “free ticket” into America. As a result, the flow of families and children has become a flood. In the past five years, we have seen a 620 percent increase in families—or those posing as families—apprehended at the border. This last fiscal year was the highest on record. Children are being used as pawns to get into our country. We have even uncovered “recycling rings” where innocent young people are used multiple times to help aliens fraudulently gain entry. As a nation, we cannot stand for this.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for the Breitbart Border team. He is an original member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Face