U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) has identified 238 fraudulent cases of individuals claiming to be related in order to secure entry into the United States. Illegal aliens from Central and South America have been exploiting children to take advantage of loopholes in U.S. immigration policy.
In April, the Family Fraud Initiative was launched by ICE, in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Border Patrol, to investigate individuals posing as family members when applying for asylum in the United States. Under the policy known as "catch and release," families with minor children arriving to the United States are released ahead of their hearing in immigration court, a hearing in which many migrants fail to appear.
ICE announced in a press release that more than 350 individuals have been "federally prosecuted for various crimes, including human smuggling, making false statements, conspiracy, and illegal re-entry after removal," following the inception of the Family Fraud Initiative in April.
"Some of the most disturbing cases identified involve transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and individuals who are increasingly exploiting innocent children to further their criminal activity. Investigations indicate that TCOs and individuals have entered into schemes with biological parents to dangerously transfer their children – ranging in age from 4 months to 16 years – to unrelated adults so they can pose as family units to further their human smuggling criminal enterprises and/or fraudulently obtain U.S. immigration benefits," according to ICE.
In addition to children being exploited by criminals, the Family Fraud Initiative also identified 50 individuals who falsely presented themselves as unaccompanied minors.
According to the press release, "this past summer Border Patrol agents encountered a Guatemalan, who initially claimed to be an unaccompanied minor. The alleged juvenile possessed a birth certificate that reflected his claim to being 15 years old. However, during questioning he admitted that the birth certificate he presented was fraudulent, and that in fact he was an 18-year-old adult. In this case as in several others, the agents’ investigative actions prevented this man from being processed as a minor, referred to HHS and housed with juveniles."
ICE says such cases of family fraud are only increasing as more and more individuals exploit loopholes in our immigration policies.