Top Republican to DHS: Stop Human Smugglers from Advertising Safe Passage on Facebook

US Representative John Katko (R-NY) addresses the press during the congressional border de
JUSTIN HAMEL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. John Katko (R-NY) this week requested a briefing from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) about its efforts to prevent social media platforms such as Facebook from allowing human smugglers to “brazenly” advertise guaranteed safe passage into the U.S.

Human smugglers, who are increasingly working with drug cartels knowledgeable of routes into the U.S., made over $400 million in February alone before the migrant surge intensified, the April 6 letter from Congressman Katko, the ranking member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, revealed.

Citing DHS estimates provided to his committee, he noted “traffickers raked in more than $400 million in the month of February alone — a number which has certainly grown proportionally as the number of migrants encountered at the border skyrocketed in March,” adding, “I am concerned that the spread of misinformation and advertisement of smuggling activity is only further exacerbating an increasingly untenable situation for frontline law enforcement personnel, as well as the vulnerable populations being exploited.”

DHS did not respond to Breitbart News’s request for comment by the time the article publicized.

However, an unnamed official from DHS, which keeps an eye on social media posts by potential migrants, told NBC News, which first reported the traffickers’ advertisement, that the lies spread by the smugglers on Facebook are partly to blame for the border crisis.

While Biden blames his predecessor for the crisis, Republicans say the migrant surge fueling the border problems is a result of the president rescinding the Trump administration’s border measures that managed to dramatically reduce illegal immigration near the end of his tenure.

Still, Rep. Katko said he is worried that the advertisement by human smugglers, known as coyotes, will worsen the border crisis.

“I am fearful that such advertising of nefarious activities on social media will continue to contribute to the humanitarian and security crisis facing the [DHS] as it encounters hundreds of thousands of migrants along the southwest border,” he said.

Breitbart News reached out to Facebook to no avail.

Nevertheless, NBC News learned from an unnamed spokesperson from the social media giant “that Facebook policy prohibits human exploitation and trafficking and that the company removes such content when it is identified or flagged by users [emphasis added].”

However, Facebook has hired so-called fact-checkers to flag or block news reports by conservative news outlets almost immediately after they are posted, without relying on users to do their work.

When it comes to human smugglers advertising their nefarious services, it was not until NBC News flagged the posts that Facebook removed them.

Unscrupulous coyotes exploit innocent people, including children, for monetary gain, at times leaving behind migrants who get hurt or are unable to keep up during the perilous journey. Some GOP lawmakers have accused coyotes of raping young women on the way to the United States.

Via Facebook, the human smugglers falsely promise Central Americans a ‘100 percent’ safe journey into the United States for $8,000, NBC News found.

According to Bruno Lozano, the Democrat mayor of Del Rio, Texas, the lucrative profits made by human smugglers and drug cartels amid the border crisis may reverse “all the advances we’ve made to dismantle the cartels over the last decade.”

“They are making a killing off those who are destitute,” the mayor added.

The tentacles of social media platforms like Facebook reach nearly all corners of the world.

Early this month, Arizona National Guard Adjutant Gen. Michael McGuire told Fox News he believes human traffickers have launched a “worldwide marketing campaign” to smuggle people across the border.

Central American migrants primarily fuel the migrant surge.

However, the number of apprehended migrants from outside Latin America crossing the border illegally, namely from Africa, Asia, and Europe, has led the general to believe the Latin American cartels are marketing their services worldwide.

“We stop on average 10 individuals on the terrorist watchlist per day from traveling to or entering the United States,” DHS reported in 2019.

The migrant surge has overwhelmed resources such as detention space, forcing border authorities to release illegal migrants into U.S. communities, sometimes without court documents or coronavirus tests, forcing resources-strapped border communities to house, feed, and test them.

Although Biden is urging members of his party to blame Trump for the border crisis, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and other Democrats have criticized Biden’s approach to addressing the crisis by focusing on the root causes of migration, saying the U.S. has long been aware of what is driving migrants into America.

Cuellar and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) suggested that Biden is wasting valuable time on determining the long-term root causes of migration rather than dealing with the problem now.


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