Since mid-April, Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) agents have worked alongside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in the El Paso sector to help process alleged families that illegally crossed into the United States. Three teams were initially launched into Las Cruces, New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. A couple weeks later three more HSI teams were sent to the Rio Grande Valley, Del Rio, Yuma, and El Centro Border Patrol Sectors, Breitbart reported.
“We have been working these cases from an investigative standpoint for quite a while,” Acting ICE Director Matthew Albence told Breitbart. “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.”
According to Albence, three out of every 10 families are frauds.
“The results have been staggering thus far. 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," Albence said.
To make matters even worse, the children are being utilized repeatedly to help adults stay in America. The children will show up at the border with the adults, where they pretend to be a family. Once the adults are released the child is sent back to their home country and they're used again, over and over, in the same way. The kids are either flown home or cross back into Mexico illegally, where they catch a bus and go back to their home country.
“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," he said.
And, the worst part? It's not uncommon for Border Patrol and ICE agents to see the same children, over and over again.
According to Albence, Congress has the ability to put a stop to this. The Flores Settlement and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act prevent prevent ICE and Border Patrol agents from detaining illegals while a thorough investigation is completed.
“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,” Albence said.
Back in 2014 when ICE detained these "families" to investigate, the numbers plummeted. Smugglers knew they could no longer get away with the fake families at the border. Albence said that could happen, once again, if Congress takes action. But, until they do, the broken laws and loopholes allow these smugglers to put children in danger.
“This industry of smuggling children and trafficking them has been allowed to flourish. These are extensive criminal organizations. 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," he explained. "They’re all working together to facilitate this scourge of human trafficking.”
One of the main reasons HSI agents were deployed along the border is to help identify these fake families and, ultimately, try to protect the children who are being abused. More likely than not, the children who are being "rented" for their journey to the United States are victims of sexual assault and physical abuse.
The agency is implementing DNA testing this week so agents know whether or not a child truly belongs to the adults claiming him or her. The first set of results are supposed to be released next week.