The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security sets identifying fake families arriving at the border as a priority, and now Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is shifting resources to address it.
Children are a symbol of innocence, but according to Timothy Tubbs, Deputy Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), criminal organizations are using them to try and trick law enforcement.
“These organizations don’t see them as a child, they don’t see them as a human being they see them as a good to further illicit activity,” Tubbs said.
According to Tubbs, there has been a significant increase in the arrival of fraudulent families at the border who try to evade immigration laws and the loopholes to be released on detention.
In April, Tubbs said HSI interviewed 100 families and 25 percent of them were fake.
The deputy special agent recalled one case where an adult used fraudulent documents to try to show that a 7-year-old was his child.
Due to the influx, HSI is re-allocating resources to further investigate fake families and ultimately prosecute them individually for document fraud, false claims, illegal entry among other crimes.
HSI is also tracking down human smuggling organizations by working closely with foreign government counterparts.
“There could be where they kidnap those individuals, but the majority are working with the family members because they pay them in order for them to use those children,” Tubbs said.
In some cases, even the child’s actual family could get in trouble.
“We’re trying to identify those families for the protection of the child,” Tubbs said. “If there’s an egregious illicit activity, we will look at charging those individuals.”
HSI Special Agents and other personnel such as criminal analysts, victim assistant specialists and people that are experts in fraudulent documents were surged to the border.
ICE has also shifted 330 deportation officers to address the crisis.