U.S. government officials revealed on Thursday that the notorious and dangerous gang, MS-13, is paying smugglers to coach their members on how to go around the U.S. immigration system through deceptive and fraudulent means including teaching underage members to claim UAC status, and instructing those over 18 to lie and claim they’re underage. Such dirty tactics are, of course, meant to gain quick, easy access to the U.S.
New York Republican Rep, Peter King said his district has become such a hotbed of MS-13 activity that authorities are currently “digging for bodies within a mile of my house”. He also revealed that some families are forced to facilitate gang members’ arrival, pressured by gangs to stand as “sponsors” and “claim the children when they arrive.”
The government discussed in detail this week such a case which happened earlier this month in Arizona where Border Patrol agents arrested an 18-year-old man from El Salvador. He initially claimed to be underage to qualify for UAC status. When questioned, the man admitted that he was an adult, after all, and confessed he was a part of MS-13. He also claimed that he was trying to leave the gang.
Children known as UAC who arrive at the U.S. Border without their parents are among what is described as “the trickiest populations of illegal immigrants.”
Their number increased in 2012 and crested in 2014, overwhelming the then ill-equipped Obama administration that was eventually unable to handle them. Aside from the involvement of gangs, some UAC were turned over to criminals who then forced them into labor, or abused them in other ways.
Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen confirmed the huge problem with UAC and the role of notorious gang MS-13. She told Congress: “They recruit young children, they train them how to be smuggled across our border, how to then join up with gang members in the U.S.”
Alarmingly, the UAC members are rising, although the current administration has greater determination to solve the issue. Nielsen even begged House lawmakers to close “loopholes” which she said entice UAC to test U.S. immigration policy.
HHS assistant secretary Steven Wagner also revealed during the hearing that from the 7,635 UAC the department tried to check in with last year after the first 30 days with their new sponsors, they discovered that 28 had run away and 52 had moved out from their sponsors to stay with someone else. The most striking, however were the 1,475 UAC whose whereabouts are uncertain just after a month after they’d been placed in those homes.
UAC children are scheduled for hearings to decide whether they should be deported or granted permanent status here. Problem is nearly 60 percent of all UAC don’t show up for their hearings.
The latest numbers also show just 3.5% of UAC who came during the time of a surge in their arrivals are actually deported. Part of the huge problem is that the legal framework for UAC is disjointed at best.