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Congressman Tony Cardenas

Representing the 29th District of California

CÁRDENAS CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON CENTRAL AMERICAN HUMAN TRAFFICKING

Sep 25, 2014
Press Release
Concerned with children fleeing Central American countries to escape gang-related murder and violence, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) wrote a letter today to department leaders of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, calling on them to provide a Congressional briefing on dangerous smuggling networks bringing the children to the United States.

CÁRDENAS CALLS FOR CONGRESSIONAL BRIEFING ON CENTRAL AMERICAN HUMAN TRAFFICKING

 

(San Fernando Valley, Calif.) -- Concerned with children fleeing Central American countries to escape gang-related murder and violence, U.S. Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-San Fernando Valley) wrote a letter today to department leaders of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, calling on them to provide a Congressional briefing on dangerous smuggling networks bringing the children to the United States.

The letter also requested a report be issued with recommendations for addressing the driving factors of the refugee crisis.

In the letter to Thomas Winkowski, the head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as well as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, Cárdenas said, “I am very concerned that children who are smuggled can easily become victims of human trafficking or be coerced into transporting drugs.”

The letter also says, “[w]ithout this information we risk spending billions of tax payer dollars on policy decisions that could ultimately not address the root causes of this crisis.”

The letter was sent to Johnson and Winkowski Thursday morning.

The text of the letter is below:

 

 

September 25, 2014

 

Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Thomas S. Winkowski
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
500 12th St., SW
Washington, D.C. 20536

 

The Honorable Jeh Johnson
Secretary of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane SW

Washington, DC 20528-0075

 

Dear Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Winkowski and Secretary Johnson:

 

I am deeply concerned about the growing number of children fleeing from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala and coming into the United States to seek protection. The White House has stated that “the vast majority of these individuals rely on dangerous human smuggling networks to transport them up through Central America and Mexico.” Yet I am troubled by the lack of information that has been provided on the human smuggling networks, their financing, and their connection to the drug cartels.

 

As elected officials, we are lacking the necessary understanding of how these criminal organizations have evolved over the past years. Without this information we risk spending billions of tax payer dollars on policy decisions that could ultimately not address the root causes of this crisis.

 

Many smugglers, known as Cayotes and Polleros, have gotten rid of deposits and are charging $5,000 - $7,000 dollars per person for a “guaranteed” crossing. Along the journey they encounter Los Zetas, Mexican drug cartels, which charge the smugglers a tax of $2,000 dollars for getting migrants past a certain point. Furthermore, Juntadores – are actively recruiting and bringing children to the Cayotes for $200.

 

If this information is accurate, we are seeing a dramatic increase in the profitability of smuggling as well as a tighter link between the smugglers and the very drug cartels we have spent billions of tax payer dollars trying to eradicate. I am very concerned that children who are smuggled can easily become victims of human trafficking or be coerced into transporting drugs.

 

Given the little legislative attention that has been paid to this issue, I am requesting that members of the House and Senate be briefed on the matter. I am also recommending that a special report be distributed to the three branches of government that outlines these connections and lays out recommendations for addressing this problem. We need to stop wasting our money on ineffective enforcement strategies and allocate it to targeting the root causes of the crisis – among them, the smuggling networks.

 

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of our request.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

TONY CÁRDENAS

Member of Congress

 

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