Migrant Children Released into United States by Biden Admin Are Being Put to Work, Lawmakers Say

'Many children are being trafficked and forced to work illegally following their release from federal custody'

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May 25, 2023

Immigrant children trafficked into the United States and released into the country by the Biden administration are being put to work illegally, according to a group of lawmakers investigating the government's failure to protect these children.

Amid a historic wave of illegal immigration into America under the Biden administration, "migrant children are being trafficked for the purpose of being employed illegally in the United States," Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), chair of the House Committee on Education of the Workforce, wrote in an investigatory letter sent Thursday to the Labor Department. "This matter is especially troubling because a breakdown in government responsibility has led to the trafficking of migrant children in violation of our nation’s human trafficking and child labor laws."

Foxx is requesting a trove of internal documents from the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security "pertaining to any federal employee who has been found to have supported child labor trafficking, covered up instances of child labor trafficking, or attempted to silence the reporting of possible instances of child labor trafficking to appropriate federal law enforcement."

The probe is likely to ratchet up pressure on the Biden administration as it grapples with a massive surge of illegal migrants following the expiration of Title 42, a public health order that restricted immigration. On Wednesday, the House Homeland Security Committee launched a related investigation into policies that it says are enabling "terrorists to take advantage of the glaring vulnerabilities" at the southern border, as the Free Beacon first reported. Both investigations indicate that lawmakers in the Republican-controlled House want to hold senior Biden administration officials accountable for the chaos unfolding at the southern border. 

"Many children are being trafficked and forced to work illegally following their release from federal custody," Foxx and her colleagues wrote, citing an April New York Times report "describing what is happening to thousands of migrant children as a result of the Biden administration’s failure to ensure lawful entry at the southern border."

Customs and Border Protection recently said it encountered a record 152,000 unaccompanied minors in 2022 and 324,000 in the last 26 months. Unaccompanied minors are the most likely to be sold into slavery and forced into sex work, with one recent study estimating that 60 percent of unaccompanied minor children "are caught by cartels and exploited through child pornography and drug trafficking."

The Biden administration’s "failure to protect these children" suggests there is a systematic "breakdown" with the agencies responsible for "ensuring these children are not exploited in employment after they have left federal custody," according to the lawmakers.

As part of their investigation, the lawmakers instructed the Labor Department to turn over "all documents and communications" about how the administration is screening those who take custody of alien children after they are apprehended. This information could help the committee determine if the U.S. government is allowing children to be handed over to potential traffickers.

The agencies must also provide "an explanation of what protocol [the Labor Department] uses to identify a new sponsor or foster care for unaccompanied children found to be victims of human trafficking or child labor exploitation," according to the document request.

The Biden administration has publicly grappled with the trafficking of illegal minors. To address the issue, the State Department held a virtual public meeting earlier this month to assemble a "plan for integrating racial equity into U.S. government anti-trafficking efforts," the Free Beacon reported.

The meeting addressed several questions, such as, "What does racial equity mean in the context of human trafficking?" and "What does a racially equitable anti-trafficking framework look like, particularly for law enforcement and prosecution responses, victim assistance efforts, and prevention strategies?"

The effort sparked anger among GOP border hawks, who accused the administration of pushing a woke cultural agenda instead of directly combating human traffickers.