(KTSM) – Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents say they have seen an increasing trend of fraudulent families at the border allegedly trying to take advantage of U.S. immigration laws.
According to a news release, Amilcar Guiza-Reyes, 51, of Honduras allegedly smuggled a 6-month-old infant across the U.S-Mexico border near Hidalgo earlier this month.
“Cases like this demonstrate the real danger that exists to children in this disturbing new trend,” said HSI Acting Executive Associate Director Alysa Erichs.
Officials say Guiza-Reyes, who was previously deported in 2013, allegedly claimed that the infant was his son and presented a fraudulent Honduran birth certificate to authorities.
He later admitted that he intended to use the child to unlawfully enter the country, according to the release.
“While we have seen egregious cases of smugglers renting and recycling children, this case involving a six-month-old infant is a new low — and an unprecedented level of child endangerment,” Erichs said.
Officials say the child is in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services for placement.
According to the release, ICE is stepping up its fraud investigations to avoid similar cases.
130 Homeland Security investigators specializing in forensics, document examination, and victim assistance have deployed to the border in recent months.
ICE says 95 fraudulent families were identified since mid-April, with more than 176 other fraudulent documents and claims uncovered.
“Our goals remain twofold: One, to protect children from being smuggled across the border by ensuring they are with their parents and not being used as pawns by individuals attempting to exploit immigration loopholes,” Erichs said. “And two, to identify and stop the criminal organizations that are generating false documents and supporting child smuggling.”
According to officials, adults involved in fraud cases will be presented to the U.S. Department of Justice for federal prosecution for family fraud-related crimes including immigration crime, identity and benefit fraud, alien smuggling, human trafficking, and child exploitation.