Why should an announcement by Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales that 100 terrorists captured in Guatemala, including ISIS militants, be concerning to Americans? (At the same time, Morales also revealed over 1,000 gang members were also arrested, including members of MS-13.)
Guatemala has long been recognized as a funnel for trafficking of illegal immigrants to the U.S. Migrants pass through Guatemala’s porous border with Mexico and on to the United States. Armed with this knowledge, migrants from countries where immigration to the U.S. is difficult, particularly those from the Middle East, have long used the Guatemalan conduit.
As one investigative journalist who witnessed first-hand human trafficking from Guatemala to the U.S. wrote:
“[Guatemala] is literally a superhighway for human smuggling of people from all over the world, including the Middle East. As a journalist in 2007, I traveled throughout Guatemala tracing their paths and interviewed numerous current and former government officials there about the Middle Easterners, Somalis, Pakistanis, and others coursing through toward Mexico. I also once visited a Guatemalan consular office in Amman, Jordan, where Iraqi refugees told me their human smugglers were sourcing visas for about $700 each.”
Guatemala is also heavy on the radar for migrants who seek to enter the U.S from African and Asian countries.
Elaborate smuggling schemes might take a migrant from, say, Afghanistan to Dubai before being flown to Brazil. From there, the migrant is sent to Colombia, then Panama, Costa Rica then finally Guatemala, where fake passports are known to be easy to come by.
During the Obama administration, when the borders were essentially open and migrants were receiving housing, food, medical treatment and a free education, migrants from Guatemala represented one of the largest influxes into the U.S. of any country.
Many were UACs – unaccompanied alien children. A report out of Texas noted that in a period of a few months, 60,000 entered the U.S. Included in that figure were many gang members. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) also reported the number of UACs from Guatemala caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally was more than 20,000 this fiscal year (up 5,000 from last year).
Migrants are told if they come in as family, they will not be deported. Indeed, the DHS reported that only 1.4 percent of family members who entered the U.S. illegally from Guatemala this fiscal year were sent back, with most cases (in the hundreds of thousands) backlogged in immigration courts.
Many in the news media questioned the voracity of Morales’ claims regarding Guatemala’s arrest of 100 terrorists. When we look at the expressed strategy of terror groups like ISIS to enter Europe after being chased out of Syria and Iraq and when we listen to their terror bosses telling them to leave the Middle East and commit terror attacks in the West, Morales’ assertions are entirely believable.
What is also believable is that many more slipped through.