By Jason Hopkins
The chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), giving an example of how far migrants will go to deceive U.S. authorities, said one migrant woman was caught spitting into the mouth of a baby that was not related to her.
Matthew Albence, the acting director of ICE, held a press conference Thursday to highlight several issues the agency is currently tackling, such as a lack of cooperation by sanctuary jurisdictions and the administration’s new guidelines for pregnant foreign visitors. The ICE chief also touched on a major problem for the officers: immigration fraud.
Since the onset of the border crisis, the Department of Homeland Security has identified hundreds of “fraudulent families,” migrants falsely claiming to be related in order to take advantage of U.S. immigration laws. As explained by Albence, some of these migrants will go to great lengths to maintain their scams.
“I’ll highlight one case for you that highlights the ruthlessness of these people,” he said Thursday.
“We had a case down in the [Rio Grande Valley] a few months back where a woman presented herself or was arrested — I can’t remember which — with a two-month old. The officers and agents that we’re investigating that case [knew] something wasn’t right. They put them in for DNA testing. They did three or four tests, and the DNA test for the child kept coming back inconclusive. In fact, it kept coming back with two different strands of DNA, which isn’t humanly possible,” Albence explained during the press conference.
“You know what she was doing? The mother was spitting into the child’s mouth to put her DNA into that child so they could be released as a family unit,” he said.
“So that’s what’s going on at the border. That’s the humanitarian crisis we’re talking about, and that we’re trying to deal with,” Albence went on, noting that the woman was sent to jail and the child was rescued. “That shows the heartlessness of some individuals and what they’re willing to do come to this country illegally.”
Immigration fraud is a significant occurrence at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) identified more than 702 fraudulent families, including nearly 1,500 fraudulent documents — bogus passports, birth certificates, etc. These individuals, who are aware of U.S. immigration procedures, bring unrelated children with them in the hopes of being regarded as a family unit. Such a designation, they believe, will give them a greater chance of being released into the interior of the country.
Numerous cases have emerged where adult migrants have admitted to renting adolescents to take to the border. Immigration authorities have also found the same children repeatedly showing up at the border, a result of them being recycled by human smuggling organizations for different customers.
U.S. authorities, however, are able to clamp down on fraudulent family cases through the implementation of DNA testing programs.
Albence on Thursday said that when DHS implemented Operation Double Helix and other DNA testing programs, fraud rates dropped from about 20% to around 10%, and is even reaching single digits.
“We’ve seen a steady trajectory of the fraud rate decreasing, which is why I’m confident in saying that our efforts in this space are being effective with regard to shutting down this criminal activity,” the ICE chief said of the programs’ success.
Albence — in a break from any specific news items or policy debates — said his employees have no hidden agenda or ulterior motive in the work they perform. They simply are working to fulfill their oath to keep communities safe.
“We don’t do politics. There’s not one person in this agency, including myself, that needs a single vote, that needs a single dollar from a donor, or a single endorsement from any special interest group to do our job,” he said to reporters. “We do our jobs because we are sworn federal law enforcement officers and that’s what we do.”
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