(CNSNews.com) - Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan told Congress on Tuesday that Customs and Border Protection is not able to efficiently obtain criminal records from other countries on illegal immigrants who enter the United States illegally with children while they’re being held during the 20-day hold mandated by the Flores Agreement.
During a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on what is required to improve conditions at Border Patrol facilities, Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said when he visited the border, he heard that when adults cross the border with a child, “there’s a 20-day clock that is ticking at that point.”
“Are we able to get criminal records from countries outside of the United States obviously from other countries within 20 days of who this adult is traveling with this child?” Lankford asked.
“Not efficiently,” Morgan responded.
“So some countries can. Some countries cannot. Is that correct?” Lankford asked.
“That’s correct,” Morgan said.
“So do you have situations where you had to release an adult because of this time period, this holding, this Flores Agreement time period where you’ve released an adult traveling with a child and later discovered that that adult is a felon from that country?” Lankford asked.
“I don’t have those statistics, sir,” Morgan said.
Lankford said Border Patrol agents he spoke to told them of two separate incidents where they released two illegal immigrants who had arrived with a child only to find out afterwards that they had released a murder suspect and a pedophile:
So I’ll tell you what I heard this past weekend from some of the Border Patrol folks that I talked to there on the border. Now they gave me two specific examples that have happened recently - that they released an adult and then found out after they released an adult with a child and then found out two weeks later that that adult had a murder warrant in their home country, and they just released him into the country, and they could do nothing about it.
I also found out that one of the agents was telling me they had released an adult traveling with a child and then found out after they were released when they got their criminal records in from home country that, that was a convicted pedophile from that country now traveling with a child somewhere in our country, and because we couldn’t detain them for longer than 20 days and we couldn’t get those criminal records, they’re released in the country, and they’re traveling with a child.
The other thing that I heard and I thought was interesting was it was children that were maybe 7 to 10 years old that were traveling with adult males, but when I got to the facility in McAllen last week, it was almost all infants and very young children, and when I asked about that, they said they were able to pull people out and separate the child from the adult, interview the child, and the child could often tell us that’s not my dad. Now with infants, you can’t do that anymore.
“Have the cartels changed methods?” Lankford asked.
“Absolutely, that’s why they’re a multibillion dollar organization, because they change, and they profit from it every single time. Border Patrol alone has identified 5800 fake families. HSI, a part of the investigative element of ICE, has put resources down there. They discovered hundreds of fake families,” Morgan said.
“The stories are happening every single day and it’s very clear, it’s very clear, senator, is that they know, grab a kid. That’s your passport into the United States because of the Flores Settlement Agreement. That has to be changed, and it’s going to take a legislative fix to do that,” he said, adding that if Flores isn’t changed, improving the care that CBP provides won’t stem the flow of migrants illegally crossing the border.