The government of President Donald Trump has launched a campaign against human trafficking that includes the detention of parents who live as undocumented immigrants in the United States and pay for their children to be brought into the country clandestinely.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told Efe today the initiative focuses on “identifying and detaining people involved in illegal smuggling operations.”
This campaign includes “legal guardians who have paid criminal organizations to introduce smuggled children into the United States,” Christensen explained.
The ICE “aims to disrupt and dismantle from end to end the illicit paths used by transnational criminal organizations and facilitators of human smuggling. (…) Guardians who have put children directly at risk by entrusting them to violent criminal organizations will be responsible For their role in these conspiracies, “he added.
This new ICE campaign responds to the directives issued in February by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which included the possibility of filing charges or expelling parents who pay a coyote to help Their children to cross the border.
As advocated by immigrant and refugee rights organizations, the Office of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) began sharing information with ICE about relatives of unaccompanied children in the United States following the executive order Of Trump.
CBP’s information on minors who arrive in the US alone with the help of coyotes is now allegedly used, according to sources quoted by these organizations, to track them down and detain them in their own homes to deport them.
Children in Need of Defense (KIND) said they have a dozen cases registered, but acknowledged that the information is still unclear and has been confirmed by several sources in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York and Virginia.
According to these organizations, children crossing the border alone are questioned by the CBP and then that information used by ICE to arrest their parents and even accuse them of a crime of trafficking.
“We have been hearing rumors about the raids on unaccompanied children for two weeks now,” said KIND Vice President Cory Smith, who said the impacts of this will be “extreme.”
“They will return to traumatize the children, those responsible will fear to go to pick them up at the centers where they are after crossing the border and will be more vulnerable to gangs and traffickers,” he added.
For his part, Associate Director of the Immigration Policy Team at the Center for American Progress (CAP), Philip Wolgin, regretted that the Government uses “vulnerable children” to persecute their own parents.
“It’s the latest effort by Trump and his government to separate families. Separating children from their parents is the most extreme level of cruelty and has nothing to do with politics or ideology,” Wolgin argued.
The Department of Homeland Security recognizes that 155,000 unaccompanied children have been detained in the last three years, while according to data from the High Commissioner for Refugee Assistance (UNHCR) last year, only on the US-Mexico border, they were detained Around 64,000 children.
These children flee mainly from extortion, forced recruitment into gangs, exploitation and sexual violence in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, where organized crime, especially Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18, sow terror and dominate broad Territories with an army of thousands of members.