“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.”

His remarks come amid a bitter battle in Congress over how to address an increasing number of migrants arriving at the southern border. In May, nearly 133,000 migrants were apprehended by US Border Patrol, more than 84,000 of whom were families, according to recently released Customs and Border Protection data.

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.

32% increase in migrants encountered or arrested at the southern border in May
Last month, Border Patrol agents apprehended a Honduran man crossing the Rio Grande River from Mexico into Texas with a 6-month-old baby, according to a complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of Texas. ICE Homeland Security Investigations interviewed the man, Amilcar Guiza-Reyes, after finding that he was using fraudulent documents, the complaint says, and he conceded that the child was not his.
On Wednesday, ICE announced that a Honduran man was charged with allegedly smuggling a 3-year-old boy into the US. The man claimed the boy was his son and presented a fake birth certificate, according to charges.
“Cases of ‘fake families’ are popping up everywhere. And children are being used as pawns,” said then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in a speech in March. She also said DHS had uncovered “child recycling rings,” in which children were used repeatedly in an attempt to be released in the US.

CNN’s Geneva Sands contributed to this report.

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