Homeland Security Investigations special agents assigned to the El Paso Sector say they identified more than 200 fraudulent migrant families apprehended at the Texas border over the past six months.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents conducted investigations into possible fraudulent family claims made by migrants apprehended after crossing the border during the past six months in the El Paso Sector. The investigations led to the identification of 238 fraudulent migrant families, according to information obtained from ICE officials.
ICE officials began deploying additional resources to the southwest border during the peak of this year’s crisis involving massive numbers of migrant families illegally crossing the border from Mexico, Breitbart Texas reported in April. The deployment followed the discovery of evidence indicating smugglers were exploiting U.S. immigration laws by creating fake families.
“Frankly, it’s disgusting,” Acting ICE Director Matthey T. Albence said in a phone interview with Breitbart Texas in May. “But, it’s not something that we’re surprised about, unfortunately. We’ve been saying for several years that when we talk about the humanitarian crisis on the border, it’s not just the number of family units and unaccompanied children that are coming to the border illegally, it’s a fact that, based on the laws that Congress has failed to fix, they have created an industry the smuggling and rental of children.”
“These kids are being released and sent back across the border, whether it’s to Mexico or to the Northern Triangle and being utilized again for this exact same purpose.” the acting ICE director explained.
Albence discussed a specific case where 51-year-old Amilcar Guiza-Reyes obtained a fake birth certificate in order to establish a father-son relationship at the border. He arrived with a six-month-old child that agents would later determine he had no familial relations.
“Cases like this demonstrate the real danger that exists to children in this disturbing new trend,” HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Alysa Erichs said in a written statement. “And while we have seen egregious cases of smugglers renting and recycling children, this case involving a six-month-old infant is a new low – and an unprecedented level of child endangerment.”
In response to the border surge, ICE officials deployed 130 personnel to the southwest border.
“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.”
Since that time, ICE officials reported:
- 238 fraudulent families identified;
- 329 false documents seized that were used to support fraudulent claims;
- more than 350 individuals federally prosecuted for various crimes, including human smuggling, making false statements, conspiracy, and illegal re-entry after removal; and
- 50 individuals identified who have fraudulently claimed to be unaccompanied minors.
“These children are being dangerously used as pawns by criminals to take advantage of loopholes in our immigration laws and avoid being detained by U.S. immigration authorities,” Jack P. Staton, special agent in charge of HSI El Paso said in a written statement. “HSI and Border Patrol will continue to protect children from being smuggled, as well as aggressively target, identify and stop criminal organizations from generating false documents and exploiting innocent children.”
El Paso Sector Interim Chief Gloria I. Chavez added, “These are examples of the dark side of this humanitarian crisis that our Border Patrol and HSI agents are working tirelessly to identify. We will pursue the highest of judicial consequences for those who commit fraud and exploit innocent children.”
ICE officials report the issue of “family unit fraud” has been on the increase since the spring of 2018.