U.S. authorities have been warning for over a year now that children are being used and trafficked by prospective illegal immigrants in order to gain access to the American interior. Mexican authorities have now backed up those claims.
A story at the Seattle Times on Sunday details how migrants are trying to literally buy kids off of vulnerable single mothers in Tijuana, Mexico, so they can more easily get across the border. That’s because they know that if they cross the border posing as a “family unit,” they have a much higher probability of being released by authorities.
Now, the report explains, authorities in Tijuana are telling mothers to keep an extra-close watch on their children following reports of men trying to purchase kids.
“They want to rob our kids so they can cross into the United States,” 44-year-old migrant mother Antonia Portillo Cruz told the newspaper. “I can’t go to work because I can’t take my eyes off my boys.”
The migrant from Honduras said she personally witnessed men in the shelter where she’s staying asking to buy children, some of them offering the equivalent of $350. A Mexican police spokesman confirmed the reports to the paper and said that federal authorities are investigating the matter.
This is not a new problem. Government officials warned that catch-and-release loopholes surrounding family units would incentivize kidnappings as early as 2016. In May 2018, numbers from the Department of Homeland Security showed an “eye-popping increase” in such cases. Some children are now being recycled by human smugglers, according to immigration officials.
Meanwhile, a pilot rapid DNA testing program at the border revealed that roughly 30 percent of those suspected of posing as fake family units were indeed defrauding immigration officials.
At a press conference at the border on Monday, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, blamed the ongoing endangerment of children created by such loopholes squarely on Congress’ inaction on fixing the immigration system.
“Our policies, the loopholes that Congress has put in place, [are] encouraging people to risk their lives and even more tragically, it’s putting children in harm’s way,” Sen. Cruz said. “Today, roughly 50 percent of the adult men crossing into the Rio Grande sector have a child with them. The reason for that — the fault of that — is the U.S. Congress, because we have told the traffickers … ‘If you bring a child, that child is essentially a get-out-of-jail-free card.’”
Cruz went on to call the current system “an incentive from the United States Congress: ‘Go and find a small child and take that arduous journey, risk that child’s life.’”
.@SenTedCruz blasts Congress for current state of border crisis:
"The fault of that is the U.S. Congress because we have told the human traffickers, 'If you bring a child, that child is essentially a get of out jail free card.'"pic.twitter.com/heUe65ti1P
— Nate Madden (@NateOnTheHill) July 1, 2019