Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matthew T. Albence told Breitbart News that agents are finding false family claims in three out of 10 migrant families interviewed at the border. The interviews are part of a new ICE program directed at detecting and prosecuting false family claims made by Central American migrants to gain entry into the U.S.
“We have been working these cases from an investigative standpoint for quite a while,” Director Albence told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview on Tuesday. “What we’re doing now that is a little different is surging the additional resources to the ports of entry and Border Patrol stations where these individuals are being arrested and being processed. We’ve got teams in seven different locations who are conducting interviews of people who appear to be fraudulent families or where we have concerns that they are not who they say they are.”
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, Texa, Breitbart News reported. The agency deployed three additional teams on April 22 to the Rio Grande Valley, Del Rio, Yuma, and El Centro Border Patrol Sectors. Director Albence said a total of 22 teams have now been deployed to seven locations along the border.
“The results have been staggering thus far,” the director stated. “In just a couple of weeks, we’ve interviewed 256 family units and identified 65 fraudulent families. Almost three out of every ten families we’ve interviewed have become fraudulent.”
Albance told Breitbart News they have found more than 100 fraudulent documents and birth certificates used in an attempt to support family claims. “It’s obviously troubling that these children that we see time and time again are being recycled by these criminal organizations,” Albence continued. “They are being brought into this country in terrible conditions. They are being used by some unknown adult in most cases just for the purpose of allowing that adult to be released because they know we can’t hold them. The children are then sent back to their home country and utilized again.”
“Within the first week of the operation, we found a little seven-year-old girl from Guatemala, her mother rented her three times in the past year to be brought here to this country so that the adult can be released.”
Albence told Breitbart News that once the undiscovered fraudulent families are released into the U.S., the child is frequently transported back to their home country either by air travel, or they are illegally crossed back into Mexico where they are bused back to their home country in order to be recycled.
The director said that this problem of Central American migrant families hiring smugglers to bring them to the U.S. can be stopped immediately if Congress would take action. Specifically, he said that Congress must identify the Flores decision and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act passed in 2008. These two obstacles currently force U.S. officials to release migrant families because they cannot be held long enough to conduct effective asylum claim investigations.
“If they changed the laws to allow us to detain these families as a unit together for a short period of time as we go through the immigration process, this would almost stop,” he said referencing the current migrant family crisis at the border. “It happened before when we set up family detention in 20014-15 the numbers plummeted. The same thing would happen again.”
He explained that because of the broken laws and loopholes created by the system, “This industry of smuggling children and trafficking them has been allowed to flourish.”
“These are extensive criminal organizations,” Albence stated. “They are transnational criminal organizations that have people that work for these organization both in the foreign countries — their working with the cartels in Mexico — and they’ve got people here domestically. They’re all working together to facilitate this scourge of human trafficking.”
Albance said the case of the seven-year-old Guatemalan girl is not that unusual. “We’ve had numerous criminal investigations where we see that these individuals are being recycled,” he continued. “They’re being treated as commodities, they’re not being treated as human beings. These smugglers have no regard for their safety or well being.”
The acting ICE director said that the recycling and abuse of these children is just one of the reasons why they are executing this surge of forensic investigators from Homeland Security Investigations to the border. “Our primary goal is to protect the security of these children,” he said. “We’re trying to tell Congress that there is a humanitarian crisis — young children are being trafficked and abused along the way.”
“All the statistics show that the chances of that child being sexually and/or physically abused is more likely than not during that trip to the United States,” Albence stated. “And then, God what conditions they’ll be in once they come here to this country.”
“We had one case where a man had a child who was not his and was repeatedly raping her, sexually abusing her, and impregnating her,” the director explained. “These are not good people. There’s a lot of criminals that are in the mix of these people who are coming in illegally.”
He said that those who are bringing a child into this country and making a false family claim are committing a criminal violation. “We’re going to go after them,” he stated, “both domestically and internationally.”
In an effort to more quickly determine the instances of false familial claims, federal officials are about to begin a “rapid DNA” testing program in two locations. He said this specific type of DNA testing will return a result in 90 minutes that can identify a parent-child relationship.
Albence said the Rapid DNA testing will being this week. “We hope to have some results next week.”
The director again stressed that Congress is the only body of government that can solve this current problem at the border. “If protecting the health and well-being of these poor innocent victims is not enough to get Congress to do something for a change, I don’t know what is.”