President Joe Biden's first acts in office included a rollback of his predecessor's restrictive immigration policy—one that Biden had characterized on the campaign trail as "cruel" and "inhumane."
The policies of his administration have led to an unprecedented spike in border crossings and, well, the chickens are coming home to roost. A New York Times report on Monday detailed how those policies are fueling a nationwide child labor crisis, the details of which would make Upton Sinclair blush. Some might even call it "cruel" and "inhumane."
Thousands of alien children—some as young as 12 years old—are now working illegally at slaughterhouses, factories, and construction sites. Caseworkers estimate that roughly two-thirds of all unaccompanied alien children will work full-time after they're released from government custody, and the Department of Health and Human Services has lost contact with over 85,000 alien children since Biden assumed office.
None of this comes as a surprise to the White House, whose response to the crisis has been a master class in buck-passing and evasion.
In the summer of 2021, senior Biden administration officials were warned that migrant children were being put in dangerous and compromising situations. The administration went on to halt most worksite immigration enforcement raids, arguing it would protect "the dignity of the individual" and free up resources to focus on "unscrupulous employers." How's that working out?
The position of the Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for placing migrant children with guardians, is that the agency is not responsible for "protecting unaccompanied alien children from abuse and trafficking after placement with a sponsor." Well, OK then. And the Biden administration official in charge of the Office of Refugee Resettlement testified to the House on Tuesday that alien children in danger can call an 800 number for assistance.
We won't hold our breath for the sort of frenzied, wall-to-wall media coverage this story deserves, which might prompt the administration to reverse course. That was reserved for former president Donald Trump's policy of separating parents from their children to disincentivize the smuggling of minors over the border. Biden called that policy "a moral failing and a national shame." It is a more fitting description of the disaster his own actions have wrought.