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Border Patrol Concerned Over False Family Units

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MCALLEN – A recent shift in the type of family units arriving at the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen has been noted by several agencies.

Mothers with children are being seen less often, while fathers with their kids are making their way to the center in greater numbers.

A federal agency says the change could be dangerous for minors.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS visited the Humanitarian Respite Center on Monday.

Dionicio Barahona was amongst the group of 20 men, 28 children and six women.

He left El Salvador with his 10-year-old son 19 days ago. His wife made the same journey with their other three children.

Their reason for leaving their country is the violence; they lost one of their oldest to gang violence.

Barahona is amongst the growing number of fathers with children crossing the border illegally.

Sister Norma Pimentel, executive director of Catholic Charities Rio Grande Valley said, "Especially this year, the numbers that we've seen mostly are of fathers instead of moms. We, of course, we do see some mothers, but not as many as we see the dads."

Not all recent cases are like Barahona's. Some fake the relationship to get through detention according to National Border Patrol Council spokesman.

"One of the problems we're having now is men and children. Not that it's bad for a man to come with his child, but what we've seen is men claiming to be with children who are not their children. That can be very dangerous. The reason they do that is because there's no detention center, so they'll get past the checkpoint. What happens when they get past the checkpoint? They just discard this kid. They don't need him anymore. So, that's one of the issues that we're worried about is false family units," said Chris Cabrera.

Cabrera worries the trend poses a risk for minors if, in fact, some family units aren't legitimate. He wants Border Patrol to determine the validity of the familial relationship.

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