More than 13,000 Romanian nationals have entered the United States since Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Last month, Texas Scorecard reported on a 13-year-old boy from Romania forced to sell flowers on busy intersections in El Paso, Texas—a far cry from the “American Dream” the extended family envisioned when they decided to migrate illegally to the United States. On the surface, it would appear that this is just another case of illegal aliens incentivized by open border policies, left without resources by the left-wing policies in an overwhelmed Texas city. However, further observations and investigation may lead to a far more sinister situation.

Reporter Anthony Aguero documented encounters with the family in various locations across El Paso. During interviews with the family members, it was discovered that the group had crossed illegally into the U.S., entering through Yuma, Arizona. The family was sent to a sponsor family in El Paso. According to one adult family member, they live in a household comprised of several other Romanian nationals. During each interview over several days, vehicles with two men and a woman were observed watching the dispersed family members. In one case, one of the watchers was observed replenishing the bucket of flowers, then resuming observations of the young Romanian teenager and his aunt.

When this trend continued over the course of a few days, the license plates of the observed watchers were investigated. It was discovered that the registered owners of one of the vehicles has a history of criminal charges, including reckless bodily injury to a child/elderly/disabled and evading arrest.

Other cases of Romanian nationals panhandling and selling flowers holding similar signs were recently documented in Tucson, Arizona. Additionally, after the original article on forced child labor in El Paso, the author began receiving tips on parallel cases involving Romanian migrants holding similar signs in other Texas metroplex areas.

Why is this trend a cause for possible concern? It has been well documented that the Romanian population is at high risk for trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation. In 2020, the Evening Standard reported that three-fourths of those sold into sex slavery in Europe were Romanian nationals. Last year, The Sun reported a disturbing trend of desperate Romanian parents selling minor children to sex traffickers to pay for debts. Under the Trump administration, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo placed the country of Romania on the Tier 2 Watch List of the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), citing the government’s lack of reaching minimum standards to eliminate trafficking. The country remains in that TIP Tier 2 status in 2022.

In previous years, the cases of human trafficking of Romanian nationals were primarily concentrated in Europe. But with the ongoing investigation turning up similar cases in various cities across Texas, Arizona, and Florida, is this disturbing trend of illegally entering Romanian migrants indicative of trafficking rings operating in Texas and the United States, specifically targeting this commonly exploited population?

Correspondents with Border Network News and Real America’s Voice News have reported traffickers advertising as travel agencies targeting migrants seeking to enter the United States illegally. So far, the interviewed Romanians have all crossed illegally into the United States through Yuma, Arizona, then dispersed to sponsors in various cities. 

Is this trend suggestive of one previously seen in European countries, where a travel agency advertises to Romanian nationals and then releases them to traffickers operating in the U.S., who then hold them in bondage until the debt of illegal entry is paid? With over a 428 percent increase in Romanian nationals from Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2022, many were holding similar signs and supplied with objects to sell by observers sitting in nearby vehicles in three states and across several Texas cities.

The investigation is ongoing.