The Obama Administration's Human Trafficking

U.S. Border Patrol takes over where the human smugglers leave off.

Murrieta-Patrice-LynesFor all intents and purposes, the Obama administration is engaged in human trafficking.

At a Senate hearing Wednesday, Health and Human Services Acting Assistant Secretary for the Administration for Children and Families Mark Greenberg admitted that, even if the Obama administration knew it was releasing Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) to other illegal aliens, they would do so based on the "totality of the circumstances” that apparently justifies such irresponsibility. However, when pressed by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Greenburg made it clear the Obama administration doesn’t even want to know to whom they are releasing the children, disclosing the reality that HHS does "not verify the immigration status of the individual.”

Pressed further by Coburn, who wanted to know if HHS thinks it would be less likely for illegal alien parents to bring their children back to deportation hearings, Greenburg dug himself a deeper hole. “This is about who the child should live with while they’re awaiting the removal proceedings and during the removal proceedings,” he insisted. Coburn wanted to know if the refusal to inquire about the status of family members taking custody of illegal immigrant children was HHS policy.  “Yes, that is the case,” Greenburg replied.

National Review’s Victor Davis Hanson emphasizes the utter lawlessness of such a policy. “Here in the U.S., how can our government simply choose not to enforce existing laws?” he wonders. Hanson then eviscerates the administration’s “Catch and Release” policy. “How can American immigration authorities simply send immigrant kids all over the United States and drop them into communities without firm guarantees of waiting sponsors or family? If private charities did that, would the operators be jailed? Would American parents be arrested for putting their unescorted kids on buses headed out of state?”

Hanson further notes the Mexican government is abetting the human trafficking. Despite having some of the “harshest” immigration laws in the world, where those illegally crossing the Mexican border are either summarily deported or jailed, there are "tens of thousands of Central American children crossing with impunity hundreds of miles of Mexican territory, often sitting atop Mexican trains,” he writes.

The network of Mexican freight trains to which Hanson refers are so well known that they have a name: Tren de la Muerte," or "Death Train." That appellation refers to the reality that children must hop aboard the trains while they are moving, and those that don’t make it are often severely injured. "The couplings between the cars are notoriously dangerous. I see children who have lost an arm and a leg or both legs,” said Erica Dahl-Bredine, an El Salvador representative for Catholic Relief Services. An aid group in Honduras confirms that assessment, tallying more than 450 illegals who have been mutilated.

And it’s not as if the Mexican government is unaware of the situation. The trains, also known as La Bestias, aka The Beasts, are a regular feature on the evening news in Mexico. They regularly depart from a depot at Arriaga, in the state of Chiapas near the Guatemalan border for the two-week journey to the U.S. border, during which they are routinely accosted by gangs, and drug traffickers who subject the “passengers” to rape, kidnapping, extortion and mugging. In addition, corrupt local officials demand bribes in exchange for allowing those passengers to continue on their journey.

How is this possible? "Human despair has been turned into a commodity, a flourishing business for illicit enrichment,” explains Huffington Post contributor Homero Aridjis.

It is illicit enrichment that flows overwhelmingly to a number of drug cartels. They have taken over a largely informal border smuggling business formerly operated by “coyotes” and turned into a sophisticated human trafficking operation where they maintain control of the entire border, as well as the routes leading up to it. As a result there has been a tenfold increase in the cost of getting across the border, from approximately $300 to $500 often paid to a single coyote, to as much as $3,000 to $6,000 per person, with prices often determined by age, gender and country of origin.

Furthermore, this “business model” may be successful to the point where it might be more lucrative than drug smuggling. According to statistics from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), total seizures of cocaine, heroine, marijuana and methamphetamine have declined in every state that shares a border with Mexico. Yet most telling, that decline has been greatest in Texas, which is the epicenter of the current crisis. The DEA and the U.S. Border Patrol refuses to confirm that the two are causally related, but Arizona Border Patrol spokesman Peter Bidegain insists the smugglers will "use what’s successful, so they’ll try anything.”

The apprehension of a staggering 57,000 UACs since October 2013—the latest revision of the total revealed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Gil Kerlikowski at a Senate hearing Wednesday--coupled with the additional 240,000 illegals apprehended since April, suggests the success has been overwhelming. If one takes the lowball figure of $3,000 per person and multiplies it by the number of apprehensions, human trafficking has turned a profit of $891 million over the last eight months.

And all of it is being abetted by an Obama administration that knows the overwhelming majority of UACs released into the general population will never show up for their deportation hearings. At the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs hearing Wednesday, Thomas Winkowski, deputy assistant secretary for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted as much, revealing that only 1300-1500 of the UACs from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the three countries fueling the crisis, have been deported so far. That number represents just over 3 percent of the total number of UACs apprehended to this point.

Statistics presented at a House Judiciary Committee just over two weeks ago paint an even grimmer reality. First, Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) revealed that since 2011, ICE has only been able to remove fewer than 2,000 minors per year. Tom Homan, the official overseeing ICE’s removal operations, revealed a big reason why. “Last year we removed 1,800, but again as I said about the immigration courts: When we looked at all the unaccompanied alien children that were filed with the immigration court in the last five years, 87 percent of them are still in proceedings. We have no final orders,” Homan said.

Naturally, President Obama blamed Republicans for the crisis. At a press conference Wednesday night he insisted their opposition to his $3.8 billion spending request—along with their failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform--is facilitating it. “Are folks more interested in politics or are they more interested in solving the problem?” Obama said he asked Texas governor Rick Perry. “If they are interested in solving the problem then this can be solved. If the preference is for politics then it won’t be solved.”

Obama’s idea of “solving" the problem is to wait until Congress passes the appropriations bill before he will do anything about sealing the border—if at all. Hot Air’s Noah Rothman cuts through such transparent disingenuousness, explaining that in an emergency, "the executive branch does not wait for Congress to pass funding before it acts. It is beyond insulting to suggest that emergency supplemental funding is a precondition for a response to an emergency,” he writes.

It is even worse than that when one recalls Obama telling Americans in January that he has a pen and a phone, ”And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions…”

And as hypocritical as the president is, the appropriations package is even more so. Dan Cadman at the Center for Immigration Studies analyzed the bill. He explains that 49 percent, or $1.8 billion, of the total requested by Obama would be spent on resettlement costs, not just for UACs, but entire family units. Another $5 million would be spent breaking the law because it would go to DHS attorneys tasked with defending UACs in court, even though "Section 292 of the Immigration and Nationality Act specifically prohibits representation of aliens in immigration proceedings at government expense.” Much of the enforcement portion of the funds would be spent on recouping costs for temporary detention and subsequent resettlement of illegals, 47 percent of whom are adults.

He also notes the “meager” $109 million being requested to facilitate anti-smuggling investigative efforts is destined to achieve limited success because the U.S. has "very little influence over ineffectual or corrupt police and military services in the source and transit countries, to ensure that they root out criminal gangs responsible for the smuggling.”

Cadman then levels the boom on the Obama administration."On the U.S. side, the ones responsible for predicating the effort through contact with, and payment to, the gangs are often the parents or other relatives of those being smuggled and, rather than investigate and prosecute such individuals to the full extent of the law, the government instead acts as the ultimate delivery agent, passing along the smuggled-but-apprehended alien to the people who paid to have him or her smuggled,” he explains.

On Tuesday, Fox 11 News reporter Gigi Graciette tweeted that sources have informed her that three individuals on the government's terrorist watch list attempted to cross the border from Mexico to California. Breitbart News reports that six individuals from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Yemen were recently picked up by the U.S. border patrol near Laredo, Texas. A November 2012 House Committee on Homeland Security report from the Oversight Sub-Committee revealed that "the U.S. Border Patrol regularly apprehends aliens from the 35 'special interest countries' designated by our intelligence community as countries that could export individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism.”

Between Fiscal Years 2006 and 2011, apprehensions of 1918 special interest aliens occurred at the nation’s Southwest border.

“The drug cartels will bring people into the country no matter who they are---for money,” explains Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX). “Everyone in the world knows that the border between the United States and Mexico is completely porous.” That includes an Obama administration that abets human trafficking—and a Commander-in Chief whose immigration agenda trumps any connect-the-dots commitment to national security. Pathetic.

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