Will Racke on July 11, 2018
Admitted killers, human smugglers and gang members were among thousands of unaccompanied minors the Obama administration processed during a surge of migrant children across the southwest border in 2014, according to government reports obtained by a conservative watchdog group.
Judicial Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based investigative organization, published nearly 1,000 Significant Incident Reports (SIR) on Monday, after a three-year delay in an open records request to the Department of Health and Human Services. The SIR summaries cover a six-month period from May to November 2014.
They show widespread criminality in the UAC resettlement program, with migrant children admitting to serious crimes and also to being victims of sexual abuse at the hands of U.S. government contractors and employees.
“The Obama administration presided over a humanitarian and public safety nightmare in its handling of unaccompanied alien children,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “The incident reports also support the Trump administration’s contention that the UAC crisis, which continues, includes murderers, rapists, drug smugglers and human traffickers being routinely allowed into the United States.”
In one report, a male from Mexico said he was “forced to kill” while working for the Gulf Cartel, a major drug trafficking organization active in the Texas borderlands. Several other reports concerned UACs who admitted to being members of the brutal transnational gang MS-13 before they crossed the border.
In some cases, migrant children in HHS custody admitted they were human smugglers themselves and had charged other UACs a fee for sneaking them into the U.S.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant families and children, mostly from Central America, flooded across the southwest border between 2014 and 2016. To deal with the deluge, the Obama administration placed thousands of unaccompanied children in HHS-contracted shelters and, eventually, with sponsors across the country. MS-13 activity surged in metro areas that received a particularly high number of UAC from Central America, according to a study by the Center for Immigration Studies.
After a brief slowdown in early 2017 under President Donald Trump, the number of family units and unaccompanied children crossing the border has climbed back to levels seen during the last two years of the Obama administration. In response, the Trump administration has continued the practice of placing unaccompanied minors in shelters and with sponsors.
Trump also briefly implemented a “zero tolerance” policy under which family units were separated while parents were prosecuted for unlawful entry. After public outcry and court challenges, Trump rescinded the order and returned immigration detention to the previous status quo, where illegal immigrant families are released into the U.S. with monitoring devices.
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