Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, said Thursday that American law is forcing the government to help smuggle immigrants into the U.S. illegally.
He said parents turn their children over to smugglers who bring them through Mexico to the U.S. border and get them across. Once over the line, they usually turn themselves in voluntarily, counting on federal authorities to deliver them to their parents or other relatives, who are usually in the country illegally themselves.
“The federal government has been the final chain in the human trafficking effort,” Mr. Cuccinelli said at an event hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “We are helping them pull this off.”
He was talking about juveniles who show up at the border without parents — known in government-speak at Unaccompanied Alien Children, or UACs.
Under federal law and court-ordered policy, UACs nabbed at the border must be quickly processed and sent to the federal Health and Human Services Department, which then holds them in dorm-like facilities while seeking sponsors to take them.
Parents living in the U.S. — even those here illegally — are given first priority as sponsors.
Authorities say Central American families have figured out the system and will send children to show up at the border with a birth certificate, and with names, addresses and phone numbers of parents or other relatives in the U.S. written down. They’re counting on the federal social workers to deliver the children to their relatives.
“People put children in this pipeline with a certain degree of confidence — they’re obviously willing to risk their children — that they will end up with parents in the end,” Mr. Cuccinelli said.
It’s not the first time a major figure has delivered such a warning.
In 2013, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen, who sits in the Southern District of Texas, issued a stunning opinion where he blasted Homeland Security for complicity in smuggling. He said in delivering children to their immigrant parents who are in the country illegally, the government was “completing the criminal mission” of the smuggling cartels.
He was ruling in a case involving a mother from El Salvador, living illegally in Virginia, who paid $8,500 to have her daughter smuggled up from El Salvador and across the U.S.-Mexico border using a bogus birth certificate.
The smuggler was arrested at the border and the child was taken into federal custody — but was then delivered to the mother in Virginia. No charges were brought.
Judge Hanen said the mother should have been charged with criminal conspiracy to violate border security laws. Instead, it allowed her to remain free and didn’t even begin deportation proceedings against her, despite knowing she was in the country illegally.
“The DHS, instead of enforcing our border security laws, actually assisted the criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals,” Judge Hanen wrote.