Acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said in an interview with Hill.TV that 24 cases of false parental claims had been found at the U.S.-Mexico border in the first few days of DNA testing.
Current U.S. law allows for asylum seekers traveling with children to be detained for only a short period, and then released within the U.S. until they are required to appear before a judge about their application.
McAleenan noted that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is particularly concerned that undocumented migrants seeking asylum are falsely claiming to be the parents of the children they are traveling with to take advantage of the law.
The DHS has also said such claims raise concerns about the welfare of the children.
“One of the things we’re most concerned about is the increasing incidence of adults bringing across children that are not their own. I had a gentlemen in Guatemala last week tell me that everybody knows that bringing a child is a passport for migration right now,” McAleenan said.
McAleenan said that in the first few days of a program to conduct DNA tests the department identified “24 people that were fraudulently claiming to be parents of a child they were crossing with.”
“How many more cases are out there,” the DHS chief added.
McAleenan also noted that in the first 4 weeks his team has also identified 180 cases of false paternal claims under different identification methods, 360 fraudulent documents, and over 300 prosecutions of people purporting to be parents.
DHS announced in late April that it would begin rapid DNA testing parents in some cases to target potential human smuggling.
McAleenan’s comments come as tens of thousands of migrants continue to arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border. He told Hill.TV that the numbers for apprehensions in the month of May are set to surpass April, when they topped 100,000 for the second month in a row.
President Trump has responded to the crisis by imposing a 5 percent tariff on Mexico beginning June 10th, demanding that the country do more to crack down on migrants traveling through to the U.S.-Mexico border. The tariff is set to increase unless Mexico takes further action.
– Saagar Enjeti