U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced on Monday night it is reallocating resources to combat cases of fake families, who are using forged documents to enter the country and avoid detention.
More agents from ICE's Homeland Security Investigations team have been deployed to the Southwest border to increase investigations into fraudulent family units seeking to enter the United States illegally.
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ICE reported that evidence of fraud was found in more than 25 family unit interviews in the month of April alone. Forged documents have included birth certificates and other documents to claim parentage.
The agents also found adult illegal immigrants were using documents to claim they were minors under the age of 18.
"ICE Homeland Security Investigations is redirecting resources to the border in response to cases of fake families using forged documents to illegally enter our country and avoid detention," ICE acting director Matthew Albence said in a press statement. "Our highly-skilled teams are working to stop individuals, networks and organizations facilitating child smuggling and document fraud."
Albence said that ICE and the Customs Border Patrol agency "remain committed to protecting children by ensuring they are not used as pawns by individuals attempting to gain entry to the U.S. through fraud."
Additional HSI teams are supporting CBP in El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces, N.M., Eagle Pass and Harlingen, Texas, Yuma, Ariz., and El Centro and San Diego, Calif. The teams have human smuggling and trafficking expertise and include criminal analysts, interpreters, document analysts, and forensic interview and victim assistance specialists, according to ICE.
In one fake family case in April, HSI agents identified two suspect family units, alleging to be two fathers and their two sons. The sons were pretending to be minors and were discovered to be 23 years old.
Another case involved an adult Honduran man, who presented a fake birth certificate for an unrelated 7-year-old with whom he was traveling. The child was turned over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement as an unaccompanied minor.
Approximately 330 deportation officers have also been temporarily shifted to areas most impacted by the border crisis.