Customs and Border Protection this week shared an image of a toddler brought to the border by a migrant with prior arrests who was falsely claiming to be the boy’s father in an attempt to gain entry to the U.S. But he was foiled by a DNA test and never made it.
The photo showing the child being held by a Border Patrol agent was published on CBP’s Instagram page this week. The caption says that agents encountered a group of 12 migrants made up of family units and unaccompanied minors.
After discovering that one of the migrants had two previous immigration arrests within the past month, agents flagged him for a DNA test as part of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) program -- which revealed that he was not the father of the child.
“The test revealed there is no parent-child relationship. The man admitted he was not the child’s father, but knew the mother and had permission to the take the child,” the post said.
“The man admitted that it is common knowledge in Honduras that if you bring a child, you will be released,” it added.
There was no indication where the child is now.
Administration officials and GOP lawmakers have been trying to bring attention to the problem of child trafficking and “child recycling” whereby kids are used by multiple migrants to take advantage of restrictions that limit how long family units can be held in detention before being released into the U.S. while their asylum cases are considered.
“Unfortunately we see that all too often now ... adults that are bringing children with them that are not their own to try and take advantage of what they perceive as a loophole in our law that would allow them to be released into the United States,” Acting DHS Secretary Kevin McAleenan told the House Oversight Committee last month, as he described how a DNA test helped thwart one migrant who allegedly "bought" a 6-month-old child for just $80 in a bid to exploit loopholes.
Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, introduced a bill last month that would expand the pilot program and implement DNA testing throughout the border, and punish those caught trying to cheat the system with up to 10 years in prison.
“There are one in five cases, according to ICE, of groups of people coming over with children, saying ‘these are our children’ -- when they say that they get preferential treatment through the asylum process -- and then we have later found out they are not even related, so the DNA testing helps us to determine if they’re telling the truth or not,” Gooden told Fox News.