The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Child smugglers may be victims, too

Migrant children play on Sept. 23.in an encampment under the Del Rio International Bridge from Mexico into Texas, where migrants, many from Haiti, have been staying after crossing the Rio Grande.
Migrant children play on Sept. 23.in an encampment under the Del Rio International Bridge from Mexico into Texas, where migrants, many from Haiti, have been staying after crossing the Rio Grande. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The Oct. 3 front-page article “An underage migrant smuggler at a crossroads” should have noted that many children such as Antonio are victims of human trafficking, and are caught in a destructive and dangerous cycle in which they are exploited, trafficked and irreparably harmed.  

A child conducting labor through “force, fraud or coercion” is a victim of human trafficking under U.S. law. Customs and Border Protection is required to screen Mexican children arriving at the border for this risk, and to refrain from returning them to Mexico into the “circuit” if they suspect a child is in a trafficking situation. Congress gave CBP funds to hire child welfare professionals for this very task, but CBP has yet to hire them.  

Moreover, resources would be better spent tracking the criminal elements that exploit children such as Antonio — and bringing them to justice. Human trafficking and smuggling have become big business, and the cartels behind it are the true source of the problem. 

Wendy Young, Washington

The writer is president

of Kids in Need of Defense.

Loading...