Friday, April 16, 2021

Human Smugglers Use Facebook to Reach Migrants and Spread False Hope of Reaching the U.S.

Human smugglers are openly advertising their services on Facebook while falsely telling Central Americans interested in crossing undocumented into the U.S. that they can promise a 100% safe journey.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the use of social media by smugglers is not new but the practice is growing, fueling false hope as more migrants fall prey to misinformation about how the Biden administration will welcome them. A recent Facebook post reads, “Travel to Mexico to the United States. Costs $8,000. 100 percent safe. Cross through Matamoros. You walk one hour, after in automobile until you arrive to your relative.”

Posts like these are found on public Facebook pages with names like “Migrants from Various Countries in Mexico” and “Migrants in the Mexico- U.S. Border Awaiting Hearing.” The Department of Homeland Security, which monitors social media posts by potential immigrants, believe the misinformation spread by smuggles is partly to blame for the recent surge at the border.

However, several Latino activists are worried that this new way of hiring smugglers can be dangerous because people don’t know who they’re hiring. On one of the posts a person asked, “Excuse me does anyone know if they are letting [people] with kids cross the bridge?” Immediately, someone replied, “They are not letting minors with parents pass.”

The response correctly echoed Biden’s policy of expelling single adults and families but allowing unaccompanied children to stay. However, most families have been allowed to stay in the U.S. because parts of Mexico have stopped taking them back.

The conversations reflect the desperation of migrants who are looking for any path, including sending their children with unknown human smugglers to escape poor conditions in Central America. Amy Maldonado, an immigration lawyer stated, “The Biden administration is forcing this because they kept the Title 42 policy. “I can’t imagine how desperate you must be to trust your children to human traffickers.”

NBC

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