Home Republican AGs demand explanation for unsafe release of migrant children
Politics, US & World

Republican AGs demand explanation for unsafe release of migrant children

Rebecca Barnabi
child abuse
(© Rawf8 – stock.adobe.com)

Twenty-two attorneys general are demanding answers from the Biden Administration on the trafficking of migrant children.

In a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Christopher Wray, the Republican AGs address a recent report issued by the HHS Office of Inspector General that found unaccompanied migrant children in the custody of the federal government are being released into unsafe situations, including into human trafficking.

“The border crisis endangers not only Americans, but the unaccompanied children that find themselves in the middle of both our foster care system and immigration system. The federal government must take responsibility and ownership for the innocent children that find themselves alone in our country because of our lax, open border policies. Human trafficking is one of the most heinous crimes in the world. Our government’s inability to secure the southern border and care for unaccompanied migrant children is fueling this criminal enterprise – it’s unacceptable,” Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares said.

The attorneys general express concern over the Biden Administration’s recent revelation that it cannot locate 85,000 migrant children for which it is responsible. The letter cites a February New York Times report that states many of the children have been forced into laboring for debilitating hours under dangerous conditions, often in violation of child-labor laws and resulting in grave injury and death. Others are being sex trafficked.

The Times investigation revealed that the federal government knowingly allowed these unaccompanied minors into the country and released them out of the federal government’s custody without conducting proper vetting and safety checks and in fact, “regularly ignored obvious signs of labor exploitation.”

A report from HHS’ Office of Inspector General this month confirms and documents many of the issues found in the New York Times investigation, admitting that more than one-third of children’s case files were flagged with safety concerns. In some instances, “address checks conducted by case managers yielded results such as vacant houses or nonresidential addresses, but no home studies were conducted before children were released to these sponsors.”

The AGs note that Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, recognizing the problem more than three months ago, asked the Department of Homeland Security for a plan to address the growing crisis, but has received no response. Now, the Attorneys General are demanding the Administration account for the reports in writing by May 1, 2024.

“Our states have a strong interest in enforcing state and federal law within our borders. We are also dedicated to fighting against human trafficking and are outraged that victims now include children that were in the federal government’s care…. Missing children must be identified, and potential sponsors must be vetted,” the letter states.

Miyares joins attorneys general from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.