Migrants in Tijuana, Baja California, are growing more fearful as groups of men approach them offering money in exchange for children.
According to shelter directors, migrants and Tijuana Law Enforcement, the men are offering to purchase children from “vulnerable single mothers” to help improve their chances of entering the United States safely.
The Flores Agreement set the national policy for the detention, release and treatment of minors in the custody of the Immigration and Naturalization service; the agreement set standards by prioritizing them for releasing and requires immigration authorities to release them without unnecessary delay.
Minors must be released to parents, other adult relatives or licenses programs willing to accept custody according to the Flores Agreement. Family units, which include minors, are, therefore, released while they wait for their asylum cases to be seen in immigration courts.
Authorities have experienced a rise in migrant adults crossing the border with children, who weren’t theirs, claiming to be a family.
Homeland Security data shows that in Fiscal Year 2018, the U.S. Border saw 600 cases of family fraud compared to Fiscal Year 2017’s 46 cases.
On May 1, Homeland Security Officials announced a pilot program involving DNA testing on the families arriving at the border.
According to DHS, from October 2018 to May 2019, officials have detected more than 1,000 cases of fraudulent families trying to cross the border.
While the DNA tests won’t be the only method used to identify families, the DHS’s goal is to identify minors who are being used as “a ticket across the border” and are in dangerous situations.
According to statistics, the instances of family fraud are only a small part of the total number of families apprehended at the southwestern border.
In Fiscal Year 2017, nearly 76,000 families were apprehended at the southwestern border, and only 0.06 percent were identified as fraudulent. In FY 2018, the first five months saw the apprehension of 31,000 families with only 0.6 percent fraud cases.
Journalists, Yolanda Morales and Yuriria Sierra, for Imagen TV first reported on the case in Tijuana, and local police have been investigating.