Smuggling cartels are using the surge of illegal immigrant children as a smoke screen to distract the Border Patrol, leaving gaps in security that the gangs then use to slip more drugs or known criminals into the country, the chief of the Border Patrol’s labor union will tell Congress on Wednesday.

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said that the cartels are taking advantage of U.S. laws, which require special treatment for the children. He said nearly 40 percent of Border Patrol manpower has been shifted to manage the children, leaving the cartels with a free hand to conduct their other criminal activities.

“The cartels purposely cross between ports of entry to tie up Border Patrol manpower, creating holes in our enforcement and facilitating their other lines of business, such as drug smuggling and the smuggling of known criminals into the U.S. Make no mistake, this is big business for the cartels,” Mr. Judd said in testimony he will deliver Wednesday to the House Judiciary Committee.

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