The U.S.-Mexican border and trafficking

Smuggling and trafficking of both adults and children can be seen as both a cause and effect of the chaos at the Mexican-U.S. border.  On the 6/24/18 CBS program "60 Minutes," it was reported that, "Immediately after President Trump's inauguration in 2017, arrests of illegal immigrants on the southwest border plummeted to lows that hadn't been seen in years. But three months later, with immigration reform stalled in Congress, the numbers started climbing again and have now returned to average. That comes to about half a million immigrants arrested each year. As we first reported in March, a great deal has changed on the border. Because of increased enforcement and the control of the drug cartels on the Mexican side, human smuggling has developed to an industrial scale. Illegal immigrants, in the hands of professional smugglers, find themselves trapped in a system of cruelty, neglect and death."

It's a situation that has been building steam for several years.  In 2014, the Obama administration expedited movement of migrant children out of government shelters.  According to"The Associated Press reported two years ago that in April 2014 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services relaxed its safety standards to promptly move migrant children out of government shelters and into sponsors’ homes when waves of illegal aliens surged across the southern border.  However, according to the AP’s reporting, the lowered standards resulted in children landing in unsafe homes where they were “sexually assaulted, starved or forced to work for little or no pay.”  The AP found almost 30 children who were placed with “caregivers” who exposed them to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, abuse or neglect." further states that, "HHS lowered standards by ceasing required fingerprinting of much of the adults claiming children as theirs. In April 2014, HHS ceased asking for original copies of birth certificates from most sponsors to prove who they were. In May 2014, the AP noted, HHS stopped filling out forms that asked for sponsors’ identifying information prior to placing any of the children in the sponsors’ residence. Finally, the agency ended FBI background checks of the caregivers they were sending the migrant children to. HHS estimated that around 90,000 migrant children were placed into sponsor care between 2013 and 2015, but the agency did not know how many of those children were trafficked because the department failed to keep track of them after their placement.  (Emphasis added.)

A search of verifies that children were trafficked in 2014: "A congressional report and criminal indictment resulted from a 2014 incident in which multiple immigrant children were handed off to a human trafficking ring."

Snopes says, "In July 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted a ring of traffickers lead by Aroldo Castillo-Serrano and accused them of smuggling children into the United States. They were also accused of lying to Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) by posing as relatives in order to gain custody of children in its care and use them for forced labor in Marion, a city north of Columbus. The federal indictment, filed in U.S. district court in Ohio accuses Castillo-Serrano and his conspirators of forcing the children to live in squalid trailers and work six or seven 12-hour days a week, using threats and physical violence as coercion."

Snopes further explains, "The case spurred a Senate subcommittee investigation led by Rob Portman (R-Ohio) which concluded the processes used by ORR to screen sponsors “are inadequate to protect the children in the agency’s care. ...As a result of the investigation, HHS and the Department of Homeland Security entered into an agreement to hammer out a joint plan that would address the issues raised in the report. As of 26 April 2018, that still had not happened according to Portman, who released a statement blasting the agencies for their failure to take action."

That failure to take action has made things worse.  On 6/23/18, DMLNewsfeatured "...a moving, personal account posted by a Border Patrol wife."  It shares the horrors of smuggling and trafficking that U.S. Border Patrol officers are currently encountering.

What do we do?  It's a complex problem that doesn't have a quick fix.  I would suggest that we be apolitical and pro-solution.  In our politically divided nation it's time for all Americans -- conservative, liberal, independent, whatever -- to demand that our president, representatives and senators, and all government agencies involved set aside the finger pointing and partisanship and get to work together to fix this horrible problem.  Today.  Not tomorrow.  People are suffering, being trafficked, and dying. 

And you and I can and must pray.  Prayer does make a difference.  James 5:16says, "...the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." 

Men, women, and children we've never met are depending on us.

Want to learn more about the face of modern-day slavery? Visit



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In Our Backyard: A Christian Perspective on Human Trafficking in the United States by Nita Belles

This book invites the reader in to the lives of human trafficking victims, survivors and the traffickers themselves with true stories. These stories not only inform the reader, but also take them quickly through a well-documented crash course about human trafficking–better described as modern-day slavery–in the United States. A quick read which includes study questions for small groups, In Our Backyard could change your life and save lives around you.