U.S. Customs and Border Patrol
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U.S. Customs and Border Protection
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents helped confirm a migrant "child recycling" case in the El Paso Sector. They discovered child had been "recycled" in at least two prior instances, officials stated.

ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agents teamed up with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations (OFO) officers and Border Patrol agents under a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) program targeting migrant "child recycling" and fraudulent familial claims made by Central American migrants. Border Patrol agents and CBP OFO officers processing large Central American migrant groups identified a possible fraudulent family migrant claim, according to information obtained from CBP officials.

A CBP officer noticed several inconsistencies that led him to believe a child was not related to the alleged family member. Under continuing questioning from the OFO officer, Border Patrol agents, and the HSI agents, officials obtained enough evidence to determine the child had been "recycled" in at least two other occasions, officials stated.

"Child recycling" is a process where a migrant child who has made it into the U.S. is returned to Central America to be teamed up with a new "family member" for a return journey to the U.S.

"The U.S. Border Patrol has continuously warned about the existence of this type of illicit activity and exploitation of minors," CBP officials said in a written statement. "Transnational criminal organizations continue to profit from individuals utilizing loopholes in our immigration system to commit fraud. These groups have no concern for the welfare or safety of the children and family groups being smuggled to the Southwest Border."

On April 30, ICE officials announced the deployment of additional resources to the southwest border to investigate false family claims being made by Central American migrants, Breitbart News reported.

Beginning April 16, ICE officials deployed three teams of HSI special agents to the El Paso Sector to assist U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in interdiction efforts in Las Cruces, New Mexico, and El Paso, Texas. The agency deployed three additional teams on April 22 to the Rio Grande Valley, Del Rio, Yuma, and El Centro Borde Patrol Sectors.

"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 written 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."

During 100 interviews conducted in the first two weeks of the operation, agents found possible fraud in 25 percent of the interviews.

"This fraud may include the use of forged birth certificates or other fraudulent documents to establish parentage," ICE officials stated in a press release 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."