Since October, El Paso Border Protection has identified 665 adults posing as children illegally attempting to cross into the United States.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported on Friday that another 10 adults posing as children had been identified at the southern border.
El Paso Sector Border Patrol Chief Gloria I. Chavez stated that transnational criminal organizations convince adults to lie about their age because minors who cross the border cannot be immediately deported. In addition, she said, “Identity fraud is a common tactic used by TCOs to take advantage of migrants who do not know the legal consequences of their actions as they attempt to deceive authorities.”
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services stated that unaccompanied minors are placed in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. By law, ORR must provide children with food, shelter, and medical care while officials attempt to find a parent or guardian. While they await immigration proceedings, authorities place the children with a sponsor, most often a family member living in the United States.
The consequences for posing as an unaccompanied minor include potential fines and imprisonment for providing false statements to a federal agent and conspiring to defraud the United States.
El Paso Border Patrol recently discovered three adults from Guatemala impersonating children. They arrived with a group of nine minors and one adult. The individuals pretending to be children were in their early 20s.
On August 17, Border Patrol agents identified three Guatemalan men posing as children. They arrived in a group with six other migrants. The men were ages 18, 25, and 26. Authorities discovered their actual ages after interviewing them and realizing that their stories were not consistent.
During another incident the same day, the El Paso Border Patrol detained eight unaccompanied minors from a different port of entry. After interviewing the group, they discovered that one of the individuals was 19 years old and another was 22 years old.