The Trump administration's own data doesn't support the idea that huge numbers of 'fake families' are crossing the southern border.
Congressional testimony on Tuesday from Trump’s own acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan destroyed an incessant lie used by the Trump administration to justify its draconian efforts to rip migrant families apart at the border.
Trump administration officials have falsely claimed that a significant number of families crossing the U.S.-Mexico border are really “fake families,” or adults traveling with unrelated minors posing as a family unit for the purpose of child trafficking or to smuggle drugs into the country. This, officials claim, is why the Trump administration can continue separating many families despite promising to end the practice.
But these are scare tactics, not reality — and the administration’s own data proves that.
Based on information provided by McAleenan and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), nearly 99 percent of families apprehended at the southern border are, in fact, telling the truth about who they are.
According to CBP data, 332,981 family units have been apprehended at the southern border this year. And just 4,800 of those family units, McAleenan told the Senate Judiciary Committee in his written testimony, “were determined to be fraudulent.”
That means only 1.4% of family units, a tiny portion, were considered to be fake by the Trump administration’s own standards.
But the whole truth may be even more damning for Trump and his administration.
According to Vice News, Trump’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) categorizes children traveling with anyone other than their biological parents — such as step-parents, uncles, or other relatives — as “fraudulent family units.” In a June interview, a high-ranking DHS official was unable to give a breakdown of how many recent “fraudulent family units” were made up of relatives versus completely unrelated adults.
Yet Trump officials have continued to engage in fear-mongering on this subject.
“The kids are being used as pawns by the smugglers and the traffickers,” then-Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in 2018.
“Fake families are being formed to cross our border and avoid detention,” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office tweeted in late April.
This lie about the extent of child trafficking was one of the major excuses used by Trump officials and Republican politicians to defend the administration’s unconscionable family separation policy implemented in 2018.
“A vast majority of these children aren't with their parents at the border," Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) falsely claimed in September 2018 when he defended tearing children away from their parents. "They're already with someone smuggling them, trafficking them. They're already with a coyote. They're not with their parents."
Trump’s policy resulted in thousands and thousands of children separated from their parents. So many children were separated that the Trump administration is still working on identifying all of them.
And one of their key reasons for doing so was based on a lie.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.