Munro: Judge Siding with ACLU on ‘Unaccompanied Alien Children’ Will Feed Demand for Illegal Child Labor

Herika Martinez / AFP/Getty Images

A federal judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Wednesday to restart its tacit cooperation with the coyotes who help deliver foreign children and teenagers to employers and illegal-migrant parents in the United States.

DHS officials say the judge’s reopening of the “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UAC) pipeline threatens border agents with the coronavirus disease.

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) progressives and immigration lawyers asked the judge to restore the inflow of the smuggled youths and children which has been blocked by President Donald Trump.

The ruling “is a critical step in halting the Trump administration’s unprecedented and illegal attempt to expel children under the thin guise of public health,” said lead ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt. The border agencies have expelled “more than 13,000 children in need of protection, who were legally entitled to apply for asylum,” he complained.

But the focus on “children” hides the transfer of teenage workers to a semi-hidden, child-labor economy in the United States. where the migrant children work hard, for low wages, to help their impoverished and often indebted families in Latin America.

The economy was described Thursday by ProPublica, a left-wing, non-profit website:

“Honestly, I think almost everyone in the system knows that most of the teens are coming to work and send money back home,” said Maria Woltjen, executive director and founder of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, a national organization that advocates for immigrant children in court. “They want to help their parents.”


Some began to work when they were just 13 or 14, packing the candy you find by the supermarket register, cutting the slabs of raw meat that end up in your freezer and baking, in industrial ovens, the pastries you eat with your coffee. Garcia, who is 18 now, was 15 when he got his first job at an automotive parts factory.

Many of the so-called “kids” are teenagers who leave their parents to look for work or who are looking to work alongside their illegal-migrant parents in the United States. For example, a federal document reported that 89 percent of one group of returned young migrants were teenagers with claimed ages of 14 to 17.

The 2008 law that created the UAC pipeline requires border agencies to accept the children and teenagers delivered to the U.S. border by the alliance of cartels and coyotes. The law also requires the border agencies to relay the migrants to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). In turn, officials at the HHS relay the children and youths to volunteer sponsors, including parents who pay the migrants to deliver the youths to the border agencies.

More than 300,000 people — including roughly 140,000 young Guatemalans — have been moved through this agency/coyote pipeline since 2009. Some of the younger people migrated to join the MS-13 gang in U.S. suburbs and later murdered Americans and fellow migrants.

President Donald Trump blocked the UAC pipeline in early 2020 by using his authority to close the border against potential disease carriers. Since then, the migrants caught at the border, including many teenagers and children, have been quickly flown back to their countries.

The judge’s decision Wednesday prevents the return of coyote-delivered children and youths who claim to be under age 18 but does not stop the return of adults and the children they bring.

Mark Morgan, the Acting Commissioner of the Customs and Border Patrol agency, slammed the judge’s decision:
[The] court ruling …  jeopardizes the health and safety of thousands of CBP officers and agents – the men and women on the front lines who safeguard our borders and protect American communities. If this ruling stands, our brave CBP personnel will be forced to come into prolonged contact with countless illegal aliens who are potentially infected with COVID-19.

Establishment media outlets usually portray the migrants only as children or “kids,” and rarely mention the child-labor racket or the payments made by parents and coyotes to the cartels who control the border. For example, the ACLU lawsuit said their client, a teenager from Guatemala, was seeking to join his claimed father in the United States because of gang threats in Guatemala.

A November 17 report by the Center for Immigration Studies noted the role of illegal migrant parents who pick up the children from HHS:

Most of those sponsors are aliens here illegally. Between July 2018 and January 2019, 23,445 UACs were released to sponsors. Of those sponsors, 18,459 — 78.7 percent — had no status in the United States. Worse, 21 were under final orders from removal [a judicial order to leave the country], six were denied asylum and were appealing to federal court, and 638 (2.72 percent) were in removal [deportation] proceedings.

The open-access report by ProPublica described the child-labor pipeline:

ProPublica interviewed 15 teenagers and young adults in Bensenville [Illinois] alone who said they work or have worked as minors inside more than two dozen factories, warehouses and food processing facilities in the Chicago suburbs, usually through temporary staffing agencies, and nearly all in situations where federal and state child labor laws would explicitly prohibit their employment.


He was 15 and he had debts to pay, starting with the roughly $3,000 he owed for the “coyote” who guided him across Mexico from Guatemala. To finance the trip, his parents had taken out a bank loan, using their house as collateral. If he didn’t repay it, the family could lose its home.

The article was about migrant labor and did not mention the Americans who lost wages and jobs when employers hired migrant children.

The ACLU and its immigration-lawyer allies are pushing Joe Biden to allow more children and youths across the border.  The New York Times reported:

“We hope that the Biden administration will immediately repeal this policy given that C.D.C. believed it was unnecessary as a public health measure,” Mr. Gelernt said. “What the Biden administration does on this policy may be the first real test of where it is on immigration and protecting children.”

The ProPublica report echoes the child poverty and exploitation that was described in the famous 1850s novels of the English author, Charles Dickens:

Until this summer, when they moved to a larger rental home, Miguel and his father lived for almost three years in a two-bedroom apartment at the Bensenville complex along with 11 other relatives and family friends, sharing expenses to save money. Miguel and his father slept on blankets on the living room floor, alongside two other men and their small children. Sometimes, he’d awaken to see cockroaches scurrying by.


… authorities found a 15-year-old Guatemalan girl working through a staffing agency at a food-processing facility in Romeoville, also in the western suburbs. She was among more than two dozen people living in the home of a woman to whom they allegedly owed immigration debts, in addition to rent and other expenses. The woman has since pleaded guilty to federal forced labor and other charges and is awaiting sentencing.

The children and teens in the ProPublica article were hired by staffing companies and labor brokers in Illinois, so allowing employers to disavow legal responsibility for the children on their production lines. The supply and use of cheap migrant labor are shielded from the agencies which are supposed to prevent the employment of child laborers, usually because of political pressure by business interests and pro-migration progressive elites.

During the 2020 election, many Democrats joined the ACLU in denouncing Trump’s border security policies. Even though his policies helped raised Americans’ household wages by 7 percent in 2019, they denounced the border rules as “kids on cages” or family separation.”

The ProPublica report noted the migrant teens do not consider themselves as victims in need of rescue by progressives:

Over the 17 years she has worked with unaccompanied immigrant children, she and her staff have seen many minors from China to Central America who arrive in this country with a personal sense of duty to work to repay their smuggling debts and send home remittances. “They’re determined to do it,” she said.

The young people in Bensenville do not feel exploited. They are not asking to be rescued. They want to keep working to help their families in Guatemala and contribute to the households where they live.

However, migrants are often pressured to migrate to the United States when prior migrants display their wealth in their home towns, or via cellphones from U.S. neighborhoods. The resulting social pressure on teenagers is one of the little-recognized impacts of U.S. elites’ self-serving support for illegal migration.

Customs and Border Protection / YouTube





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