President Joe Biden’s administration claims illegal immigration is down and steps have been put into place to gain control of the situation. However, one program may be making illegal crossings easier, not just for the migrants but for the cartels, who make a living off exploiting them.
Did the Cartels Hack the Immigration App?
According to an exclusive by the Washington Examiner, cartels have figured out a way to hack into the CPB One smartphone app that allows migrants to make appointments to claim asylum before reaching the United States. It also permits them to forgo many of the new asylum rules so they can wait in America for years until the court decides their fate.
The Mexican government used to require migrants from Guatemala to show required paperwork before crossing into the United States, but if they have an appointment on the CPB One app, they do not have to, according to The Examiner. “However, Mexican cartels are exploiting the app’s security and found a way to request unlimited appointments for anyone in the world — far beyond the app’s ‘northern Mexico’ geofence,” the outlet reported. Chad Wolf, former acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary, said the “legal pathways” are causing more issues:
“It’s further evidence as this administration continues to try to come up with a new security paradigm along that border that I don’t think they really understand … They don’t understand the lengths and depths the cartels will continue to go to. As the administration continues to put these ‘legal pathways’ into place, that’s music to the cartel[s’] ears.”
The Examiner’s investigation included reviewing unclassified internal DHS documents and communications. It found that “the Mexican government’s National Immigration Institute earlier this summer ordered its immigration officials to turn away all non-Mexican citizens who do not have a CBP One app appointment.” However, the cartels apparently are using Mexico’s policy to its advantage, overpowering the app while profiting from migrants entering Mexico.
So how do they do this? According to the investigation, cartels sell immigrants an internet connection to a virtual private network (VPN). Instead of pinpointing the user’s or phone’s location, as the app is designed to do, the VPN routes the connection through a private service so the app cannot tell if the user is in northern Mexico.
Even though migration usually slows in the summer because of high temperatures, among other travel issues, there was a 30% increase in border encounters in July, according to a prominent Washington newspaper. Smugglers advertise their VPN services on social media, “according to a DHS intelligence document and advertisements reviewed” by The Examiner. The app, created to be a deterrent for the cartels, reportedly became a cash cow once they discovered the security measures were penetrable. The Mexican cartels can now charge immigrants more to obtain a guaranteed ticket into Mexico, which encourages others outside of the country to travel there to cross the US border.
Adam Isacson, director of defense oversight for the liberal immigrant advocacy organization the Washington Office for Latin America, told The Examiner:
“Mexico will certainly let people through if they have an appointment, they’re sort of counting that as a de facto transit visa. It’s sabotage and they know very well that people can’t normally get an appointment unless they’re north of Mexico City.”
As Liberty Nation reported, on July 25, Judge Jon Tigar of the US District Court for the Northern District of California blocked the Circumvention of Lawful Pathways, otherwise known as “parole,” rule in a lawsuit. The judge noted that not everyone has access to the technology for the CBP One app, which gives an unfair advantage. The cartels use this to profit by selling a VPN to those without access.
Josh Trevino, chief of intelligence and research for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, said not only does it allow the cartels to rake in the dough but also may provide kickbacks to the Mexican government:
“Pinning the faith on a smartphone app is sort of like peak Beltway disconnect. This is a classic example of why the tactical solutions ultimately don’t work because there’s constantly workarounds to them.
“The Mexican requirement is a cash cow. It’s a cash grab. Mexicans — they’re not really partners, they’re neighbors.”
CBP spokeswoman Erin Waters said in a statement, “Claims that the CBP One App has been hacked are categorically false,” adding “the CBP One app requires a user’s device location services and GPS data to verify their location before booking and confirming an appointment.” However, since the cartels are reportedly using VPNs, Isacson said, “CBP could fix this if they wanted by just having the app read the GPS reading on the phone and not the location of the server that it’s connected to.”
House Republicans are conducting a six-part investigation into the border crisis, and part of that is trying to decide whether Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas should be impeached. House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) said this action is needed to examine the “horrifying results of Biden’s open border policies.” In a statement, House Homeland Security Chairman Mark Green (R-TN) called The Examiner’s investigation a “bombshell report,” declaring:
“President Biden and Secretary Mayorkas have provided cartel organizations more innovative ways to evade our laws, rake in money from human and drug trafficking, and wreak havoc in our country. Homeland Republicans will be looking into these recent developments, and Secretary Mayorkas’ continued, willful ignorance of cartel strategies, in our ongoing investigation.
“The Biden administration has continuously shown violent cartels that they may operate as they please at our Southwest border. As I warned earlier this year, the cause of this humanitarian crisis is simple: migrants tested the system, called home, and millions came once they received confirmation of Secretary Mayorkas’ catch-and-release practices.”
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