WASHINGTON — Acting Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Mark Morgan told a Senate committee on Tuesday that 5,800 “fake families” have been discovered trying to enter the U.S. illegally this year.
“Our laws prevent us from holding people more than 20 days and because we can’t get the information we’re probably releasing them even sooner than that in many cases, correct?” Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) asked Morgan during a Senate Homeland Security hearing on the border crisis.
“With respect to family units, since March of this year, United States Border Patrol has been releasing family units directly so in some cases they’re being released in under 48 hours into the interior of the United States,” Morgan said.
Johnson replied, “Because it really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to try and find facilities to hold them for 20 days with this overwhelming flow so instead of border patrol turning them over to ICE for a more thorough vetting process and then ICE releasing them, border patrol is doing it directly?”
“That’s correct,” Morgan, who also served in the Obama administration, responded.
Johnson said releasing undocumented migrant families into the general public without thorough vetting presents a “real danger” to public safety but also to the migrants themselves.
“Especially with the amount of fake families that we are uncovering every single day,” Morgan said.
Johnson said U.S. authorities “do not have the time to determine” if migrant children are with their parents or human traffickers.
“It’s a challenge,” Morgan replied. “As long as our laws are the way they are you are going to grab a kid because that is your passport to the United States. They know that in the Northern Triangle countries and they are exploiting that every single day.”
On April 30, 2019, it was reported that the Department of Homeland Security was starting DNA testing to determine family connections at the border. Later in the hearing, Johnson asked Morgan about the number of “fraudulent families” that have been uncovered due to DNA testing pilot programs used at the border.
“I don’t have the overall percentage but we do have the numbers. Right now at border patrol, 5,800 and HSI, part of ICE, they’ve identified hundreds since their pilot program of pushing agents forward,” Morgan said.