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DOJ urged to investigate Facebook's 'facilitation' of human trafficking, illegal immigration

Border crossing, immigration
Migrants cross the border near Del Rio, Texas, in September 2021. |

Arizona's attorney general is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Facebook's role in providing a platform to human traffickers and drug cartels as the surge of migration at the southwest border continues.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland Thursday, asking the DOJ to "pursue all legal means" to hold social media giant Facebook accountable for its "facilitation of human and sex trafficking."

Brnovich, a Republican, began the letter by noting that his office was made aware "of media reports detailing how human smugglers and drug cartels were allegedly using Facebook to encourage and instruct its users to engage in illegal activities."

"Our office wrote to Facebook to clarify its policies and procedures for preventing such misuse of its platform," he recalled. "On August 30, 2021, we were surprised to receive an in-depth response from the company … stating that its platform 'allow[s] people to share information about how to enter a country illegally or request information about how to be smuggled.'"

In a letter responding to Brnovich, Facebook claimed it proactively removes content encouraging drug trafficking and human smuggling by relying on "automated post scanning systems to identify violations." Brnovich concluded that because "Facebook identifies no mechanism to distinguish between authorized and unauthorized posts," the company's enforcement mechanism amounts to a "paper tiger."

Citing the federal government's unique role in enforcing immigration law, Brnovich requested that the DOJ "investigate Facebook's facilitation of human smuggling at Arizona's southern border and stop its active encouragement and facilitation of illegal entry."

"Facebook's policy of allowing posts promoting human smuggling and illegal entry into the United States to regularly reach its billions of users seriously undermines the rule of law," Brnovich stated.

"The company is a direct facilitator, and thus exacerbates, the catastrophe occurring at Arizona's southern border," he added. "The people of Arizona and all Border States deserve the due diligence of the federal government in its enforcement of the rule of law."

An April report from the Tech Transparency Project revealed that there were 50 Facebook pages created to offer illegal border crossings. The report was created as the massive number of migrants seeking entry into the U.S. overwhelms law enforcement officials at the U.S.-Mexico border. 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that there were 208,887 encounters between law enforcement officials and migrants at the southwest border in August. While August marked the first time all year that the number of encounters decreased, the figures for August 2021 mark a significant increase from the 50,014 encounters during August 2020. 

With the data for September 2021 still forthcoming, fiscal year 2021 saw an unprecedented 1.5 million border crossings. By contrast, there were 458,088 crossings in fiscal year 2020.

Critics of the Biden administration attribute the border surge to President Joe Biden's revocation of two Trump-era policies: the Migrant Protection Protocols requiring those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico while their cases were adjudicated and Title 42, which allowed border officials to immediately turn back illegal immigrants because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Reuters reported last week that the Biden administration would resume the Migrant Protection Protocols next month. 

The surge at the border is having an impact on those who live in border towns.

Last week, Fox News' Maria Bartiromo spoke with John Paul and Donna Schuster, ranchers who live in Kinney County, Texas. The county is one of several in the state that borders Mexico. The Schusters' property is 25 nautical miles from the border.

"Every time I leave my house, I'm checking waters, checking the livestock. There's some kind of sign that someone has been there since the last time I was there the day before," Donna Schuster said. "It's either trash, footprints, gate left open, fence cut, water line broken. … It's something every single day."

She explained that she feels inclined to "carry a gun" every time she leaves the house, even to throw out the trash. 

Intruders have shown up at the Schusters' property numerous times, and one managed to get into the garage. They had an alarm system installed and kept a chair jammed in the back door to prevent people from entering. 

John Paul Schuster explained that their property is a target of illegal immigrants because "we have good water wells on our place." The couple alleged that they were being "invaded" by illegal immigrants that are "here to do harm more so than to help." 

"I lost a 10,000-gallon tank of water," Donna Schuster recalled. "It takes me probably six weeks to get that much water back."

"They're messing with our solar pumps as far as the wiring goes and burning those up," she added. Schuster also alleged that the intruders are "leaving gates open between pastures," which could enable livestock to escape.

Schuster said the "open border policy is not working."

"And we understand that there's people coming in … that want a better life. But there's a better way to do it than the way ... that it's happening down here," she believes. 

"We shouldn't be afraid in our own homes. We live in the United States of America."

John Paul Schuster expressed a desire to let those seeking asylum in the U.S. work on his property until their court date arrives. He also broke down in tears as they contemplated what might happen if an encounter with a trespasser led to a fatality. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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