Debate rages over the rise in children crossing the U.S. border from Mexico and Central America. The numbers are staggering. According to the latest reports, more than 48,000 children were caught in the last eight months alone.
At least one federal judge recognized the sinister nature of the enterprise early on. Last December, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen issued an unusually strong order in a single case of child smuggling. His words should be heeded.
An unnamed ten-year-old girl from El Salvador had been spirited across the border, caught along with the smuggler, and then united with her mother—an illegal alien living in Virginia. And there, apparently, mother and daughter remain. The Department of Homeland Security did not arrest the mother, who instigated the conspiracy by hiring the smuggler. It did not prosecute her or move to deport her. “The DHS, instead of enforcing our border security laws, actually assisted the criminal conspiracy in achieving its illegal goals,” Judge Hanen wrote.
In a remarkable ruling, Judge Hanen cut to the dark heart of this perilous enterprise. “First and most importantly,” he wrote, illegal border crossings are about dope, violence and money: “these illegal [human trafficking] activities help fund the illegal drug cartels which are a very real danger to both the citizens of this country and Mexico.” Drug cartels, he noted, control the entire human smuggling process. Smugglers regularly use violence, extortion and sexual assault against illegal aliens. “This Court has seen instances where aliens being smuggled were assaulted, raped, kidnapped and/or killed.”
At DHS, he noted, the “current policy undermines the deterrent effect the laws may have and inspires others to commit further violations. Those who hear that they should not fear prosecution or deportation will not hesitate, and obviously have not hesitated, to act likewise.” The policy also encourages individuals “to turn their children over to complete strangers—strangers about whom only one thing is truly known: they are criminals involved in a criminal conspiracy.”
The decision to smuggle a child across the border, “even if motivated by the best of motives, is not an excuse for the United States Government to further a criminal conspiracy, and by doing so, encourage others to break the law and endanger children.”