Those 150 cases work out to an annual rate of 450 a year — or nearly 10 times the 46 cases recorded in all of 2017.

The numbers, which The Washington Times obtained from the Department of Homeland Security, signal the growing shift in immigration patterns as would-be migrants and the smugglers who shepherd them on their journey north exploit the soft underbelly of U.S. policy to gain a foothold here.

Jessica Vaughan, policy studies director at the Center for Immigration Studies, said children have become “pawns and deportation shields,” carried on the dangerous journey north and deployed to try to earn their parents more leniency.