As if the crisis along the southern border were not bad enough, adult illegal immigrants are posing as minors to enter—and stay in—the U.S. since typically those under 18 are welcomed with open arms. The government refers to them as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) and hundreds of thousands have entered the country in the last few years. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is charged with caring for illegal aliens under the age of 18 and the agency spends millions of dollars annually to house, medically treat, entertain, and school UAC who come mainly from Central America. Undoubtedly, illegal immigrant minors are almost always allowed to remain in the U.S. and quickly disbursed to a government-funded shelter upon arrival at the border.
The special treatment has led to even more criminal behavior by those already breaking the law entering the U.S. illegally. In El Paso alone, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) confirms that more than 655 adult migrants posing as minors have been busted in fiscal year 2022. This week the agency announced that the El Paso Sector has recently seen an unusual amount of activity involving adults posing as minors to dodge deportation. In one of the incidents agents identified 10 adults posting as UAC while in custody. CBP has a limited time to transfer UAC to HHS custody once the illegal border crossers are vetted and there begins the journey to stay in the U.S. Bigger criminal enterprises are behind the imposter plots, according to federal authorities. “Transnational Criminal Organizations exploit migrants convincing them to pose as minors in order to be processed as such” said El Paso Sector Border Patrol Chief Gloria I. Chavez. “Identity fraud is a common tactic used by TCOs to take advantage of migrants who do not know the legal consequences of their actions as they attempt to deceive authorities.”
The frontline Homeland Security agency says three adults posing as minors were also discovered recently using counterfeit documentation at the El Paso Sector Central Processing Center in Texas. The illegal immigrants, a 21-year-old female, 22-year-old female and 22-year-old male, are from Guatemala and were part of a group of 13 apprehended by federal agents in the area. “The three were encountered, along with nine unaccompanied children from Guatemala and one adult,” CBP writes in a statement. “These individuals pose as minors in order to avoid expulsion.” In a separate incident this month three males from Guatemala, ages 18, 25 and 26, intentionally posed as minors to remain in the U.S. Federal agents detected discrepancies between their stories and documentation presented in their failed attempt to pass as minors.
In yet another incident made public this month, CBP officers at El Paso’s Ysleta Station, which is responsible for 16.7 miles of international boundary along the Rio Grande River, discovered a group of what appeared to be eight minors later determined to be from Guatemala crossing the border illegally. Two of the illegal immigrants pretending to be underage turned out to be imposters, according to the feds. One was a 22-year-old male and the other a 19-year-old female. As in the other cases, agents, though overwhelmed with an onslaught of illegal immigration, detected discrepancies during interviews. CBP warns that individuals who attempt to pose as unaccompanied children may face charges under American laws that prohibit false statements to federal agents and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.
The last thing the country’s disastrous immigration system needs is more UAC. American taxpayers already spend a fortune to accommodate them through HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which funds and oversees dozens of state-licensed care facilities to house the young migrants when they arrive in the U.S. In fiscal year 2021 ORR housed an unprecedented 122,731 UAC, according to government figures, and this year’s budget is a whopping $8.76 billion. HHS projects that in 2022 it will accommodate approximately 149,000 and between 500 and 600 daily for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in September. Last year the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrant minors in U.S. custody, approximately 72%, were over 14 years of age and 66% were male. Nearly half (47%) of the underage migrants came from Guatemala, 32% from Honduras, 13% from El Salvador and 8% from other countries.