Traffickers bringing men, women and children across the U.S.-Mexico border made as much as $14 million a day in February, according to a new report published Monday.
“Trafficking is a multibillion-dollar industry,” former Tucson Border Patrol Chief Roy Villareal told Fox News.
“A lot of these vulnerable populations use their life savings. Some are essentially indentured servants and they’re working off this debt for a long period of time. In other cases, some of these migrants are asked to transport narcotics or some form of crime to work off a different part of their debt,” said Villareal, who recently retired after 30 years with the agency.
According to smuggling fee revenues estimated by the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), traffickers made $411.5 million in February ferrying people from Mexico and Central American countries to the U.S. border — or $14.7 million for each day in February.
The report comes as costs of the border crisis are rising for the federal government. The cost to U.S. taxpayers now tops $5 million a day, based on 2019 figures provided by Health and Human Services that put daily “influx” shelter costs at $800 per illegal alien, Fox reported.
“Additional costs will include overtime and hotel costs for the hundreds of agents reassigned to Texas from other areas. For context, in 2019 Congress appropriated an extra $4.6 billion to handle a similar migrant surge. In 2014, Congress gave President Obama an extra $2.7 billion to deal with his border crisis,” Fox wrote.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden’s administration on Sunday awarded the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency $86.9 million to house illegal aliens in hotels near the U.S.-Mexico border.
The hotel rooms will be used by families who have not yet been ordered deported but are undergoing immigration proceedings for their potential expulsion.
“The contract, through Texas-based nonprofit Endeavors, provides 1,239 beds and ‘other necessary services.’ The families will receive a comprehensive health assessment, including COVID-19 testing,” according to Fox News.
Jon Allman, president and CEO of Endeavors, said the money will provide “critical services to migrant families, which is a continuation of services we have delivered to the migrant population since 2012.”
Endeavors’ services will also include “therapeutic regiments, educational resources and mental health care,” Fox reported. “Endeavors also offers culturally appropriate, trauma-informed, child-centered case management, home study, and post-release services for unaccompanied children and their sponsors.”
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Tuesday said the surge of foreigners at the southern border is the worst in 20 years.
While still refusing to call the situation a “crisis” — calling it merely a “difficult situation” — Mayorkas said in a statement that “[w]e are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.”
Mayorkas also said that many of the thousands of unaccompanied minors now detained in border facilities have family already in the U.S.
“In more than 80 percent of cases, the child has a family member in the United States. In more than 40 percent of cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian. These are children being reunited with their families who will care for them,” Mayorkas said.