Recent data from the El Paso Sector of the US Border Patrol reveals dozens of adult migrants have been caught illegally crossing the border while posing as unaccompanied minors.
Children found at the border without parents are typically treated more favorably, so adults have been trying to exploit that treatment.
Border Patrol reported that agents have encountered over 50 adults posing as children in El Paso since the beginning of October. In the previous fiscal year, 559 adults were caught doing the same thing.
A statement from officials read “Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCOs) frequently recruit and exploit individuals, convincing them to pose as unaccompanied children (UCs) as they are smuggled into the United States”.
The increase in adults posing as minors is raising concern over gang activity.
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act allows minors to be transferred by the Department of Homeland Security to Health and Human Services within 3 days, says the Center for Immigration Studies. Minors are quickly placed with sponsors in the U.S. and are unlikely to face deportation.
Jessica Vaughan of CIS explained that “About 30% of the MS-13 members arrested in recent years by ICE originally entered the US as unaccompanied minors”. “And it is not just happening in the El Paso sector,” she added.