ICE Shifts Resources to Combat Fraudulent Family Claims by Migrants at Border

El Paso Sector Border Patrol agents apprehended more than 400 migrants in a five-minute period on March 19, 2019. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/El Paso Sector)
File Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/El Paso Sector

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials are deploying additional resources to the southwest border to combat the number of false family claims being made by Central American migrants. Of 100 interviews conducted this month, Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) special agents say they found evidence of fraud in more than 25 percent of family unit claims.

“This fraud may include the use of forged birth certificates or other fraudulent documents to establish parentage,” ICE officials stated in a press release on Tuesday. “Forged or other fraudulent documents are also being used by adult illegal aliens to falsely claim they are minors under the age of 18.”

Officials stated the migrants are making fraudulent familial claims in order to “exploit loopholes in immigration laws to enter the U.S. and avoid detention.”

“ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is redirecting resources to the border in response to cases of fake families using forged documents to illegally enter our country and avoid detention. Our highly-skilled teams are working to stop individuals, networks and organizations facilitating child smuggling and document fraud,” ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence said in a written statement. “ICE along with our partners at CBP, remain committed to protecting children by ensuring they are not used as pawns by individuals attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through fraud.”

Beginning April 16, ICE officials deployed three teams of HSI special agents to the El Paso Sector to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in interdiction efforts in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. The agency deployed three additional teams on April 22 to the Rio Grande Valley, Del Rio, Yuma, and El Centro Border Patrol Sectors.

“The teams were chosen for their human smuggling and trafficking expertise and include criminal analysts, interpreters, document analysts, forensic interview specialists, and victim assistance specialists,” ICE officials stated. “ICE is committed to ensure child safety and welfare and to decrease the number of minors being exploited to gain access into the United States.”

ICE officials cited the following examples of fraudulent family claims found by HSI agents this month:

On April 22, HSI special agents identified two suspect family units presenting as two fathers with their sons. The four individuals, two of whom were discovered to be 23-year-old men pretending to be minors, are being prosecuted for visa fraud and making false statements.

On April 18, an adult Honduran man presented a false birth certificate for a 7-year-old child traveling with him. During an interview, the adult admitted that he was completely unrelated to the child. The man was prosecuted for illegal entry and the child was turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement as an unaccompanied minor, according to procedures required in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA).

In addition to the family unit investigative resources being deployed, ICE officials also reallocated 330 Enforcement and Removal Operations officers to the border areas to assist with deportation efforts.

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 Facebook.

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