DHS Chief: ‘Almost All’ Unaccompanied Alien Children Are Smuggled – ‘Nobody’s Freelancing’

Penny Starr | July 23, 2014 | 3:03pm EDT
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Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson testified at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on June 24, 2014. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

(CNSNews.com) – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said on Tuesday that the majority of children who arrive at the U.S. Mexico border without parents are brought there by human smugglers.

“Almost all of them are smuggled, Johnson said at a press conference at Immigration and Customs Protection (ICE) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

CNSNews.com asked Johnson if he had statistics about how many of the more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors – mostly from Central America – streaming across the border in recent months were brought there by human traffickers.

“It’s our observation and our experience that almost all of them are smuggled,” Johnson said. “Nobody’s freelancing.”

Johnson said the smugglers “mislead families” by telling them they have a limited amount of time to get to the United States if they want to be allowed to stay. He also said families pay “exorbitant” prices to smugglers.

The press conference was held to tout the success of Operation Coyote, a 90-day “surge operation” being conducted by ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations to “target human smuggling operations in the Texas Rio Grande Valley” – the sector in Texas where most of the influx of illegal aliens is taking place.

A “fact sheet” of the operation – launched June 23 and data as of July 21 – was distributed. Facts included the arrest of 192 smugglers and the apprehension of 501 aliens. The fact sheet also stated that four firearms and 28 vehicles have been seized.

Johnson announced that 60 additional special agents and support personnel were being deployed to the Rio Grande Valley sector.

According to Customs and Border Protections (CBP), in 2013 the number of apprehensions of illegal aliens totaled 420,789.

The first record of CBP apprehensions was in 1925 when 22,199 arrests were made. The largest number of apprehensions was 1,692,544 in 1986 during the Ronald Reagan administration. The second largest number of apprehensions was 1,676,438 in 2000 under President Bill Clinton.

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