Some migrants are trying to purchase children to facilitate crossing into the U.S. according to reports from “shelter directors, migrants and Tijuana law enforcement authorities.”
Migrants in Tijuana shelters said they are alarmed after reports of single mothers being approached by groups of men who have offered to buy children to improve their chances of safely crossing into the United States.
A decades-old legal document, known as the Flores agreement, says migrant children should only be held briefly in U.S. border custody, which often means they are released, along with the parent or guardian with whom they crossed while they wait for their asylum cases to make their way through clogged immigration courts.
Typically, when migrants are apprehended at the border with their children they are held in custody for a few days before they are released. Single adults who cross the border can face months in detention.
Tijuana authorities are warning parents to keep a close eye on their children. “I can’t go to work because I can’t take my eyes off my boys,” said Antonia Portillo Cruz, a 44-year-old migrant from Honduras, who is living in a shelter targeted by prospective child purchasers. These “consumers” are offering $350 or 7,000 pesos for a child. “They want to rob our kids so they can cross into the United States,” she said.
Last year, Former DHS Secretary Kristjen Nielsen was criticized for suggesting illegal aliens were using children to game the immigration system.
“I’m sad to say that from October 2017 to this February, we have seen a staggering 315% increase in illegal aliens fraudulently using children to pose as family units to gain entry into this country,” said Nielsen to the National Sheriffs’ Association in June 2018. The New York Times claimed that child-based immigration fraud is still a small faction of families that approach the U.S.-Mexico border.
In May, DHS announced it would start using DNA testing to make check for “fraudulent families.”
Image from Getty Images.