News and culture through the lens of Southern California.
Hosted by A Martínez
Airs Weekdays 2 to 3 p.m.

Families of child immigrants being scammed for money

Child detainees in a holding cell at a Border Patrol facility in Brownsville, Texas.
Child detainees in a holding cell at a Border Patrol facility in Brownsville, Texas.
Eric Gay/AP

Listen to story

Download this story 2MB

Child immigrants have been at the center of the immigration debate lately. 

Kids from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, who've crossed the border illegally have been scooped up and are being held by the government in places like San Antonio, Texas. But once they're caught, there are problems that are starting to arise for their families as well. They're being scammed for money by con artists who say that they can only get their kids back if they pay cash. 

The FBI's trying to figure out how the scammers came across the information for the kids, and plenty of families are likely afraid to come forward after they've been scammed because of their questionable legal status.

From a New York Times article by Frances Robles:

One Miami housekeeper who recently paid a smuggler to bring her 16-year-old daughter from Honduras said that she had been communicating with a woman claiming to be a social worker at a shelter in Texas where her daughter was being held. The woman told her she had to pay $2,000 for her daughter’s one-way ticket from Texas.

“I said to her, ‘Why so much? How much is the ticket?’ ” said the housekeeper, Eva, who asked that her last name not be published because she is in the country illegally. “I started getting suspicious when she could not tell me how much the ticket was. I told her, ‘How do you not know if you are the one purchasing it?’ ”

The woman then lowered the price to $1,500 and passed the phone to a second person, who took down Eva’s debit card information. When Eva’s bank statement came, she said she saw three separate withdrawals.

Robles has been reporting on this issue and she joins A Martinez to discuss.