Uncle Sam, Coyote Extraordinaire

By Dan Cadman on December 19, 2013

A few days ago, I had occasion to write a blog about the seamy underside of "childhood arrivals"; specifically that such euphemisms, plus a skewed attitude toward immigration enforcement, tend to mask the reality that these children are trafficked across our borders, and are being put into the hands of smugglers whose motives are impure at best, and downright malevolent at times.

In that blog, I also reflected on the fact that our own government is acting as a motivating force in encouraging such smuggling, something I believe is both immoral and intolerable.

Now, I find that a federal judge (with first-hand experience of the government's complicity in perfecting the smuggling of children across the border, even when the attempts by the professional "coyotes" have gone awry) has had the perspicacity and courage to say very much the same thing.

U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen, after handing down a sentence for a woman convicted of alien smuggling of a child who was intercepted at a U.S. port of entry, issued an opinion decrying the fact that the child was then handed over to his mother, an alien who is herself illegally present in the United States and who was the instigator of the scheme to smuggle the child to begin with.

The judge was dismayed that the government would so blatantly ensure completion of a conspiracy and concurrently decline either to prosecute, or even initiate deportation proceedings against, the mother for her part in the plot. In his order and opinion, Judge Hanen writes:

This Court is quite concerned with the apparent policy of the Department of Homeland Security of completing mission of individuals who are violating the border security of the United States...Yet instead of arresting Salmeron Santos [mother of the child] for instigating the conspiracy to violate our border conspiracy laws, the DHS actually delivered the child to her—thus successfully completing the mission of the criminal conspiracy. It did not arrest her. It did not prosecute her. It did not even initiate deportation proceedings for her. This DHS policy is a dangerous course of action.

He goes on to state:

This is the fourth case with the same factual situation this Court has had in as many weeks. In all of these cases, human traffickers who smuggled minor children were apprehended short of delivering the children to their ultimate destination. In all cases, a parent, if not both parents, of the children was in this country illegally. That parent initiated the conspiracy to smuggle the minors into the country illegally. He or she also funded the conspiracy. In each case, the DHS completed the criminal conspiracy, instead of enforcing the laws of the United States, by delivering the child to the custody of the parent illegally living in the United States.

When asked by the Court to explain its actions, DHS and prosecutors provided the judge with a copy of the Homeland Security Act. In his opinion, Judge Hansen responds as follows:

[T]here is nothing in this Act that directs and authorizes DHS to turn a blind eye to criminal conduct...and certainly nothing that compels it to...encourage parents to put their minor children in perilous situations subject to the whim of evil individuals.

Undoubtedly one of the reasons that parents are not being prosecuted for alien smuggling is because DHS generally declines to presents for prosecution, and the Justice Department to prosecute, cases involving the smuggling of relatives – presumably on the theory that these are victimless crimes. Not so, as the judge graphically outlines:

The DHS is rewarding criminal conduct instead of enforcing the current laws. More troubling, the DHS is encouraging parents to seriously jeopardize the safety of their children. While Y.P.S. [the smuggled minor in this case] was transported in a car, others are made to swim the Rio Grande or other bodies of water in remote areas. This concern for the safety of these individuals is not fanciful or theoretical; it is a real and immediate concern. As this Court waited for the judgment to be prepared before it released this opinion, two illegal aliens drowned, two more are missing, and a three-year old El Salvadorean toddler [parenthetically, not the same one who figured in my prior blog] was found abandoned by smugglers.

I applaud Judge Hanen's remarkably candid and eye-opening opinion. Sadly, it will almost certainly result in absolutely no remedial actions on the part of the U.S. government. The judge might just as well have reached his hand into a bowl of oatmeal and squeezed, for all the good it will do. This is because he's had the temerity to disturb the administration's child-smuggling narrative: The parents aren't complicit; they're simply victims themselves, striving valiantly for family unification.

In the meantime, more children will die or receive abuse at the hands of professional coyotes who do not see their contraband as humans, but rather as a commodity to be used in any way that derives profit or gratification.