“People down there in Central America or Mexico are renting babies to get across the border and then sending the babies back and then renting them again to send them across the border,” Grassley told reporters.
Asked whether he’d seen evidence he found credible, Grassley said he was going on the word of the Department of Homeland Security. “I didn’t ask for evidence and all I know is what the acting head of the department said.”
Facts first: Immigration and Customs Enforcement says there is evidence that some migrants coming into the US have used children to pose as a family, though the agency has said it’s uncommon for an infant to be used for this purpose.
Legally, the US government is barred from detaining migrant children for more than 20 days. Often, this leads to the release of families until their immigration court hearing. The administration has argued that the limit on how long migrant children can be held in detention incentivizes migrants to come with children because it guarantees release, prompting some individuals to pose as families.
From mid-April through the end of May this year, 1,126 families apprehended at the southern border presented indications of lying about being a family, according to acting ICE Director Mark Morgan. Of those, 206 fraudulent cases had been identified, though it’s unclear what the circumstances were that deemed each case as fraudulent. According to ICE, in some cases children were used to get into the US and then returned south to then accompany another migrant.
Alysa Erichs, acting executive associate director of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations, told CNN that children are typically in their early-to-mid teens and that the use of infants to pass as a family is uncommon.
But it has happened at least once.
CNN’s Geneva Sands contributed to this report.