Joe Biden’s government announced the launch of an operation against transnational migrant smuggling networks, when the United States faces a record arrival of undocumented immigrants to its border with Mexico.
Operation Sentinel, in which the FBI and DEA participate, among other government agencies, aims to prevent traffickers from benefiting from the profits they obtain from human trafficking, authorities explained.
The measures we will take in the coming months will improve the security of the United States border and help save the lives of vulnerable migrants, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Alejandro Mayorkas, told reporters.
For this, he explained, DHS and its national and international partners will use all available tools to identify those who participate in or facilitate the smuggling of people and will take action against them, including sanctions.
Mayorkas said that it is expected to revoke visas and other travel documents, suspend and disable commercial entities and freeze bank accounts and other assets that the members of these organizations have in the United States.
“The goal is to disrupt all facets of the logistical networks of these criminal organizations,” he emphasized.
Operation Sentinel involves DHS agencies, such as Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Administration for the Enforcement of Drugs (DEA).
The acting head of CBP, Troy Miller, has accused migrant smugglers of sexual assault, human trafficking and abandonment of young children and women without food or water in remote and extreme weather locations.
He said that last year alone, some 250 minors died while traveling to the United States, and that in 2019 agents patrolling the southwest border found at least 300 unidentified human remains, the highest number since 2016.
“We know who you are and we are coming for you. We will take everything we can from you. This is just the beginning,” he promised.
In contrast to the harsh anti-immigration policy of his predecessor Donald Trump, Biden is committed to managing migration in an efficient, safe and humane way, with a comprehensive plan in cooperation with Mexico and the Central American countries, the origin of most of the undocumented.
More than 172,000 irregular migrants, including nearly 19,000 unaccompanied minors, were apprehended at the southern US border in March, a rise of 71% in one month and the highest level in 15 years.