Seventeen-year-old Jorge is a “confessed murderer” and member of the 18th Street gang.
Jose Enrique, 16, has “severe substance abuse” issues, self-mutilates, and has demonstrated “very aggressive” and “vicious” behavior.
Fifteen-year-old Pablo Alexander admitted to federal law enforcement officers that he had “murdered two rival gang members.”
Jacob Alexander, 17, said he had been “involved in shootings/murder attempts” and was “not sure if people died.”
The four teenagers all crossed illegally into the United States through Mexico this month before being detained by the Border Patrol in Texas. Without fear of retribution, they admitted past criminal behavior to law enforcement authorities in the United States. Their confessions were documented on an internal Department of Homeland Security “intake list” leaked to TheBlaze.
They traveled alone from Honduras and El Salvador, trying to reunite with their families living in the United States, according to the DHS document. Despite their admitted criminal histories, they will more than likely be released to family members with only “notice to appear” orders for immigration court.
None of them have been prosecuted; instead, they are being held at a temporary juvenile correctional facility located in Virginia, “until they are either released to a family member living in the U.S. or returned back to their homeland,” a federal law enforcement officer told TheBlaze.
A U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official told the TheBlaze that many minors with similar backgrounds are released to guardians living in the United States.
“It’s odd but they come clean on their past criminal behavior because they know nobody’s going to investigate or convict them of anything,” the ICE official said.
“Some of these crimes happened in their home country and their local authorities won’t be opening a case against them in places where murder is a daily occurrence,” the official said. “I think these kids confess because they believe we’ll know if they are lying — like we have some NSA super mindreader on them. They also know that the gang members, murderers and bad guys who arrived before them were released as well. They don’t fear us.”
ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told TheBlaze that once minors are apprehended, it’s up to the Department of Health and Human Services’ refugee resettlement office to decide “where they should be placed, even if they are considered violent.”
A Health and Human Services spokesman could not be reached for comment.
TheBlaze is not releasing the full contents of the DHS document because the teens are minors who have not been convicted. They were housed with non-criminal children at detention facilities before being transferred to the correctional facility, and “this is a major concern for law enforcement and for the safety of the innocent and extremely young children we’re picking up,” the ICE official said.
The document is an indication of the number of teenage children entering the United States with gang ties or with criminal pasts. More than 57,000 unaccompanied minors have already entered the U.S. illegally since last fall, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala — a number that is expected to reach more than 90,000 by the end of the year, according to Obama administration estimates.
“They come clean on their past criminal behavior because they know nobody’s going to investigate.”
The Obama administration last week sent the first plane carrying roughly 40 women and children back to Honduras, to show that illegals who arrive will be sent back home — an action one Department of Homeland Security official dismissed as merely a “ruse.”
“We should have been sending them home from the beginning instead of trying to hide it from the public,” the official said. “They only sent a few moms with their kids home — does the public really believe that the administration is going to deport all these children who don’t have family members with them? Or deport the ones whose family members are working illegally? It’s just not going to happen.”
‘Severe Substance Abuse,’ ‘Self-Mutilates, Very Aggressive/Vicious’
For Jose Enriques’ mother, knowing that her son made it safely to the U.S. is an answer to her prayers. Living in the shadows as a housekeeper in Virginia, she told TheBlaze she saved for months and worked double shifts to pay the first $3,000 to the “coyote,” the common term for a human trafficker, to bring her only child from Honduras. She was told another $3,000 needed to be paid after he was delivered to her.
Asked why she decided to have her son make the perilous journey now, she said it was President Barack Obama’s “new law allowing children to stay in the U.S. that gave me hope.”
“He’s all that I have and I can’t bare being apart from him anymore. Nobody understands the pain and difficulty of what I’ve had to do — nobody, only God knows,” said Maria, using a pseudonym out of fear that she could be tracked.
Her erroneous belief that Obama’s June 15, 2012 directive — which permits illegal alien children raised in the United States to remain in the country — would also apply to her son was the reason that she, like tens of thousands of other families, took the chance to bring their children into the country.
“I sent for him because after my mother died I wasn’t sure what was happening with him,” she said. “He isn’t in a gang and has no tattoos. I always warned him about staying away from the gangs — the officials there are corrupt and they beat my son so bad one time, he almost ended up in the hospital. He said, ‘Please help me mom, they beat me, they wanted to kill me.’”
Like all mothers, Maria wants to believe the best in her child, but the DHS documents indicates otherwise.
Jose Enrique, who was taken into custody on July 1, has exhibited “severe substance abuse,” “self-mutilates, [and is] very aggressive [and] vicious,” the document says, though doesn’t provide additional details.
‘I Don’t Understand What the Law Means’
Nine years ago, Maria decided to board a train in Honduras known as “the Beast” with hundreds of others hoping to find a better life in the U.S. — far from the poverty, corruption and criminal gangs plaguing her homeland. Describing the horrific conditions of her journey, she recalled clinging to the top of the moving train and nearly falling off several times when she couldn’t keep her eyes open and fell asleep.
She remembered a number of young girls who had been raped and violated by strangers who preyed on the weak.
But she said the most difficult part of her journey was leaving her son, Jose Enrique, behind to be raised by her mother when he was just 6.
It is her albatross. She has not seen her son in person since she left.
She remembered that the heat while crossing the Mexican desert was unbearable. There was little water. She remembered seeing bones along the way, wondering whether they had belonged to people or animals, until she realized it was both man and animal dotting the cracked rocky earth beneath her worn-out shoes.
“I thought I was going to die,” she said. “I thought my own bones will be the only thing left of me.”
Jose Enrique’s father left his mother when she was 19 and six months pregnant.
“I never had more children or remarried,” she said. “I came to America and I’ve been cleaning houses and working as a cleaning lady in the hotels, sending money back to my mother and son. I would always call my son and check on him; he is a good boy and I don’t believe he cuts himself or has problems with violence — I came here to give him a better life.”
Two years ago, Maria’s mother passed away.
Jose Enrique, then 14, ended up in the care of a woman who lived in her mother’s neighborhood in Honduras. Maria said she sent money every month for his care but admitted she didn’t know details about his life.
“He would say, ‘Don’t cry mom — one day we’ll reunite’,” Maria said.
‘We Are Scared to Death’
Maria said the “coyote” in charge of getting people for the trafficking operation is a woman living in the U.S.
She did not reveal the woman’s name out of fear for her life and safety.
Maria said the traffickers contacted her after her son was captured by the Border Patrol, blaming him for getting the group he was traveling with detained. She said they told her, “Your son started running after we crossed the Rio Grande and it was his fault that the whole group was captured. Because he was running, because he was stupid.”
“I don’t think they’ll come after me for the rest of the money,” Maria said. “But it does scare me. I know if my son or I go back to my country, I’ll be killed. There is nothing left for us there. We are scared to death.”
During Jose Enrique’s journey to the United States, the traffickers “stole his phone and beat him as well,” she said.
“What will happen now? Many of us are confused about the U.S. law,” Maria said. “Many of the parents are concerned about what will happen with their children. I’m so scared of him being sent back to Honduras, of him being killed.”
Law enforcement officials are more concerned with allowing criminals or gang members, like the young men on the DHS list provided to TheBlaze, might threaten if released.
“I understand the difficulties for families like hers, but [Jose Enrique] is violent,” the ICE official said. “What happens if her son — or one of the other minors we’ve detained — kills an innocent person, rapes them, robs them? Who then will take responsibility for allowing violent offenders and illegal aliens to stay in our country?”
Follow Sara A. Carter (@SaraCarterDC) on Twitter