by Will Racke
Cases of illegal immigrants crossing the southwest border with an unrelated child in tow have surged this year, the result of what the Trump administration says are perverse incentives for human trafficking created by U.S. immigration policies.
In the first five months of fiscal year 2018, immigration officials recorded 191 cases of children having to be separated from adults because of fraudulent family claims, The Washington Times reported Tuesday, citing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) data.
At the current pace, the number of such cases is on track to exceed 400, a shocking 900 percent increase over last year’s total. By comparison, there were only 46 cases of fraudulent family claims recorded for all of 2017, according to The Washington Times report.
The trend has sparked concern that certain immigration policies are encouraging migrants to cross the border with non-relative children to avoid detention if they are caught. The smuggling of minors across the southwest border is not a new phenomenon, but in fraudulent family cases, it is the illegal immigrants themselves who are using children for their own benefit, DHS officials say.
“We’ve had many cases where children have been trafficked by people who weren’t their parents,” Thomas Homan, the acting head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, told lawmakers at a hearing on Tuesday.
The rise in fraudulent family claims comes amid a related surge in illegal immigration by unaccompanied minors and people traveling in family units. The number of arrests along the southwest border, which is used as a proxy measure for illegal immigration, has been climbing steadily since falling to historic lows in the months immediately after President Donald Trump took office.
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