Report: ICE Knew in Advance of Child Immigrant Surge

Thursday, 26 Jun 2014 01:56 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Immigration authorities were aware months ago there was going to be a massive surge of immigrant minors this year despite the "surprise" influx causing a humanitarian crisis, National Review reports.

Tens of thousands of unaccompanied alien children from Central America have poured across the border into Arizona and Texas in recent months, overwhelming Border Control agents and resulting in a critical situation at makeshift immigrant detention centers.

The Department of Homeland Security said last week that it has been processing 52,000 minors who have arrived at the U.S. border with Mexico between last October and June this year, twice as many than the previous 12 months.

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However, earlier this year, data showed that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a division of Homeland Security, knew that southwestern states faced an onslaught of underage migrants and appeared to be preparing for it, the National Review said.

Officials from ICE have posted two requests for "escort services" for illegal minors to take them from the custody of the border agents and other federal agencies to shelters throughout the United States run by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which falls under the Department of Health and Human Services.

The first request seeking "escorts" for 65,000 unaccompanied children was posted in January on a website that displays federal contracts, and was recently noticed by the conservative website Weasel Zippers.

Asked whether the request showed that ICE was anticipating an influx of illegal child migrants months before it happened, ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok said the number of unaccompanied children caught along the southwest border has increased significantly for each of the past three years.

"After an initial influx in 2012, ICE began contingency planning and reallocating resources in order to better meet the increased demand for [unaccompanied minor] transports," Rusnok said. "At that time ICE began exploring various options to reduce costs and increase its efficiencies in transporting [the minors]."

The second posting came this month, but appeared to minimize the significance of immigrant children, saying that "among the groups of aliens transferred from [Customs and Border Patrol] to ICE are unaccompanied alien children."

But the request was posted alongside a Statement of Work, with several references to unaccompanied minors, making it apparent that the job consisted primarily of escorting children, according to the National Review.

The work order said that children must receive three meals a day and "seconds" if they wish, plus vegetarian meals would be given if needed. Contractors were instructed to demonstrate "cultural sensitivity and age-sensitive conduct."

The potential "escorts" were also informed that they were not allowed to "handcuff juveniles during transport unless there is evidence or a perceived threat of violent behavior, a history of criminal activity, or other reasons to believe the alien is an escape risk."

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