U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen told the Senate that human smugglers receive more than $500 million in fees from the people they bring to the U.S. illegally. The Washington Post responded by issuing “Pinocchios” for “lowballing” the number.
Nielsen told the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that people being smuggled illegally into this country are contributing more than $500 million to the very groups that are creating the violence they are attempting to flee, the Washington Times reported last week.
“To be clear — human smuggling operations are lining the pockets of transnational criminals. They are not humanitarian endeavors,” Secretary Nielsen told the Senators. “Smugglers prioritize profit over people. And when aliens pay them to get here, they are contributing $500 million a year — or more — to groups that are fueling greater violence and instability in America and the region.”
The Washington Post appeared to take exception to the secretary’s analysis and awarded her “Two Pinocchios.” The newspaper made the award after saying the number could actually be higher. “While it’s laudable that Nielsen tried to be conservative, she should have made clear that this was less of a hard figure suitable for newspaper headlines and more of a fuzzy guesstimate,” the article stated.
The award of “Two Pinocchios” by the Post appears to contradict its own definition of the award. “Two Pinocchios” are defined as, “Significant omissions and/or exaggerations. Some factual error may be involved but not necessarily. A politician can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people. (Similar to ‘half true.’)”
The Post cites a U.N. report that revenue earned by human smugglers could be as high as $1 billion based on an average smuggling fee of $10,000.
Central American migrants, who make up the bulk of the human smuggling activity along the southwestern border, are paying up to $8,000 per person to make their way through Mexico to the U.S. border. Other migrants, such as the more than 230 Bangladeshi nationals being smuggled into the Laredo Sector of South Texas, are paying upwards of $27,000 per person.
Nielsen’s numbers were based on an average smuggling fee of $5,000 paid by an estimated 100,000 illegal immigrants (about one-third of the estimated 300,000 who actually attempt to cross the border illegally), DHS officials told the Post.
“We think the number of people paying smugglers is actually much higher but wanted to provide a conservative estimate,” the official told the newspaper. “This, of course, also does not include those who pay to be smuggled across our borders and are not caught.”
Nielsen told the Senate committee members that the primary pull for migrants to pay the human smugglers is not violence, but rather, is based on the booming U.S. economy and lax enforcement of U.S. immigration laws.
To counter that pull, the DHS secretary and Attorney General Jeff Sessions are attempting to create a zero-tolerance policy whereby even first-time illegal border crossers will be prosecuted for immigration violations. However, the policy’s rollout faces obstacles as some prosecutors are declining to take charges on migrants and at least one judge is releasing detained migrants without bond, Breitbart Texas reported.
Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX, GAB, and Facebook.