Migrant 'rented' an eight-year-old boy for $130 because it is 'easier to get into US with a child', federal prosecutors reveal
Federal prosecutors told a Tucson grand jury in March that a Guatemalan man allegedly paid the equivalent of $130 to a family in a bid to "rent" their eight-year-old son to get through to the U.S. as a "family." He also got a false birth certificate made for the child for another $130 (about 1,000 Guatemalan quetzals).
Maynor Velasquez Molina was looking for a Guatemalan child he could use to get into the U.S. because he understood it would be “easier to get into the United States with a child,” according to a federal indictment brought forth by Tucson News.
The criminal complaint stated Velasquez later crossed the border with the young boy as part of a 101-strong migrant caravan that illegally crossed the border on February 18 near the Lukeville Port of Entry, the outlet reported.
A special agent said the pair made the illegal border crossing after Velasquez traveled across Mexico by bus. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents began talking to the man during processing in the Tucson sector, when he revealed he paid for the use of the boy as well as the false documents to help him get past the gates.
The Arizona outlet said the grand jury returned an indictment on March 27 on a charge of human smuggling.
Velasquez is hardly the first to cheat the U.S. immigration and asylum system.
Border Patrol officials in the Yuma sector have reported more than 700 fraudulent family cases since October 1, 2018. While some of those cases involved an adult migrant claiming to be an accompanied minor, others involved misrepresenting relations between two migrants to appear as a family.
One of the cases saw two Mexican migrants obtaining birth certificates belonging to a Guatemalan man and a Guatemalan minor with the same last name, for $260. According to Tucson news, the pair were eventually apprehended but a court sentenced them to only 20 days in federal prison.
In an effort to combat these problems, most of which are brought on by broken asylum laws in the U.S., Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials deployed three teams of HSI special agents to the El Paso Sector to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas effective April 16.
“ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) is redirecting resources to the border in response to cases of fake families using forged documents to illegally enter our country and avoid detention. Our highly-skilled teams are working to stop individuals, networks and organizations facilitating child smuggling and document fraud,” ICE Acting Director Matthew Albence said in a statement. “ICE along with our partners at CBP, remain committed to protecting children by ensuring they are not used as pawns by individuals attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through fraud.”
Agents found possible fraud in a whopping 25 percent of interviews conducted in the first two weeks of the operation.
“This fraud may include the use of forged birth certificates or other fraudulent documents to establish parentage,” ICE officials said on Tuesday. “Forged or other fraudulent documents are also being used by adult illegal aliens to falsely claim they are minors under the age of 18.”