Homeland Security charged a 51-year-old illegal immigrant with smuggling after he was caught carrying a 6-month-old baby he falsely claimed was his child in a bid to game the U.S. immigration system.
ICE called the case a “new low” amid an already shocking border crisis.
Amilcar Guiza-Reyes was spotted wading across the Rio Grande with the infant in his arms last week, and Border Patrol agents caught him. Guiza-Reyes claimed the 6-month-old was his son and presented a birth certificate showing the relationship.
But agents determined the certificate was bogus and turned the man over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Guiza-Reyes admitted to the ICE agents that he was not the boy’s father and “was only transporting the child in order to successfully gain entry into the United States and to transport the child to Virginia,” where Guiza-Reyes was to meet up with his son, Freddy Amilcar Guiza-Hernandez.
Guiza-Reyes was deported from the U.S. in 2013.
Under a court-imposed policy, illegal immigrant parents cannot be held longer than 20 days without separating them from their children — something the Trump administration doesn’t want to do, after being criticized for separating families caught at the border last year.
Would-be migrants in Central America have figured out that if they arrive with a child, they’re likely to be immediately released into the community, giving them a chance to disappear into the shadows.
From Oct. 1 to April 30 the Border Patrol reported snaring some 3,500 “families” that proved to be cases of fraud. In some cases, the child wasn’t related, while in others the child was a relative but the adult wasn’t a parent, or the child lied about his or her age and wasn’t actually a juvenile.
ICE began a pilot program last month to bring more resources to investigate those cases, and the Guiza-Hernandez incident was one of them.
“Cases like this demonstrate the real danger that exists to children in this disturbing new trend,” said Alysa Erichs, acting executive associate director of HSI.
A magistrate judge on Wednesday ordered Guiza-Hernandez held without bond pending trial.
The 6-month-old, whose identity has not been released, was turned over to the federal health department as an unaccompanied child. Under the normal course of events, the child will be placed with sponsors.
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