U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is targeting people who pay to have children smuggled into the country and that includes parents. ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said the new enforcement effort battles a humanitarian threat since it targets smuggling organizations.
The surge of Central Americans heading to the U.S. began in 2014. It’s abated this year but the Trump administration said it would target parents who pay to smuggle their children north.
In Arizona, about 1,000 unaccompanied minors were sheltered at nonprofit shelters in Tucson, Oracle and Phoenix.
"Frankly, I think this is going to have a chilling effect on other sponsors in the future to take these kids and care for them," said Phillip Wolgin with the Center for American Progress.
Christensen said ICE is seeking criminal and administrative arrests but did not specify what sponsors will ultimately be charged with.