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Child trafficking expert says cartels exploit loopholes at ports of entry: ‘Like a passport’

With familial DNA testing set to end this month, a sex trafficking expert told Just the News the crisis will get “infinitely worse.”

Published: May 30, 2023 11:15pm

Updated: May 31, 2023 10:24am

Cartels at the U.S.-Mexico border are making big profits from child trafficking and using loopholes in the federal immigration system to help them do so, says trafficking abolitionist and expert Jaco Booyens.

Booyens, founder of the eponymous anti-trafficking organization Jaco Booyens Ministry, recently told Just the News that Mexican cartels have made the United States the "number one nation on Earth" for child trafficking, in part by exploiting ports of entry.

Booyens claimed that cartels often join with other migrants who gather at entry points along the border because the Border Patrol will not reject them.

"They are told the Border Patrol is going to help them, saying, 'You're going to get a meal and clothes and a bus ticket,’” he said.

In 2021, President Biden revived a former Obama-era policy in which migrants would be processed, then released into the United States with a Notice to Appear for their court hearing.

As recently as this month, Blas Nuñez-Neto, the Department of Homeland Security's assistant secretary for border and immigration policy, said the agency is not turning away asylum seekers at U.S. ports of entry.

Booyens and others have long been sounding the alarm about the practice of cartel members trying to improve the likelihood of getting into the U.S. illegally by having a child in their arms.

"If they make it into the country, and they're home free, [then] they actually send that child back to Mexico with a mule,” he said, arguing that such a process often repeats itself, making the child “literally like a passport.”

Cartels can make few hundred dollars for each Central American person they smuggle in and as much as $50,000 for a person from China, according to a recent National Institute of Justice report.

The institute also cited a World Migration Report, which it says showed almost all migrants  – including 70% of Mexico migrants – employ the assistance of "smugglers or traffickers” when attempting to cross into the U.S.

Wisconsin GOP Rep.Glenn Grothman argued the sheer increase in the number of migrant children has also increased the risk of human trafficking and associated crimes, including abuse and forced labor.

In February, the Labor Department found that Packers Sanitation Services Inc was employing 102 children at 13 slaughterhouses across eight states.

The children were cleaning blood and animal parts off the floor of meatpacking plants by night and going to school by day, which has resulted in the Department of Homeland Security widening its investigation into the problem.

The focus of the investigation is to determine how Central American children, some as young as 13, wound up working such dangerous jobs, according to the Associated Press. 

Grothman also said 130,000 migrant children have come across the border each year that Democrat President Joe Biden has been in office, compared to 15,000 in Trump’s final year in office, though the country was still under some phases of the pandemic lockdown.

Another warning about the vulnerability and possibility of migrant children being trafficked into the U.S. and within the country was included in a recent New York Times report that found the Department of Health and Human Services has lost about 85,000 migrant children after resettling them with sponsors.

And in March, a Florida grand jury tasked in part with learning how "unaccompanied alien children" are brought into the U.S. concluded that existing border policies "[expose] children to horrifying health conditions, constant criminal threat, labor and sex trafficking, robbery, rape, and other experiences not done justice by mere words."

In 2019, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said her agency had busted many smuggler/cartel “child recycling rings” amid a 620% rise in families or fraud families being apprehended by Border Patrol.

The following month, Border Patrol released a statement on child recycling in El Paso, Texas, and blamed "transnational criminal organizations" for continuing to "profit from individuals" this way.

"It's not the cartels selling the child to Hondurans in Texas," Booyens says. "It’s the cartel selling the child to American citizens in Texas, Idaho, Ohio, the Bronx, New Jersey, Virginia."

Responding to a Just the News report that the Biden administration is ending family DNA testing at the southern border, which had been used to help stop human trafficking, Booyens predicted the change will make child trafficking "infinitely worse."

“At least we have DNA," he said "We can triangulate, we can track, we can … somehow have a database” he said. "Protocol allows us to know who's coming, where did they go, [and] who did they belong to."

Grothman, chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs, said his panel is investigating the change.

"Sixty percent of unaccompanied minors crossing the border are forced into child pornography and drug trafficking by the cartels," he said last week. 

Follow Addison on Twitter.

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