(VitalNews.org) – On Wednesday, April 26th, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration Integrity, Security, and Enforcement held a hearing highlighting whistleblower testimony intended to warn lawmakers about a multi-billion dollar migrant child trafficking operation on the U.S. border.
The subcommittee examines a large spike in unaccompanied alien children (UACs) along the southern border. Statistics from the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reveal the number of UACs at the border between each fiscal year between 2020 and 2022. The numbers ballooned between 2020 and 2021 from 33,239 to more than 146,000 and then jumped again from 2021 to 2022 reaching 152,000. This year, so far, 70,000 unaccompanied children have had documented encounters with CBP.
Typically, child migrants are transferred into Health and Human Services (HHS) custody and then united with a sponsor, usually a parent or family member that is already within the U.S.
Recently though, reports made to the Biden Administration where officials have been unable to follow up with more than 85,000 of the children released to sponsors, have become more shocking by a sudden surge in child labor practices.
Smugglers have placed a number of children into indentured servitude to repay the cost of bringing them across the border.
Three witnesses set to speak at the Wednesday hearing included Sheena Rodriguez, president and founder of Alliance for a Safe Texas; Jessica Vaughn, Center for Immigration Studies director of Policy Studies; and Tara Lee Rodas, an HHS whistleblower formerly with the Inspector General’s office.
Rodas warned the committee about the significant increase in child migrant labor is a new and worrying factor in the ongoing migrant crisis, a problem that predates the current administration.
Rodas worked as a volunteer at an emergency intake site in the state of California to identify sponsors for unaccompanied minors that crossed the border. Rodas’ volunteer work was being done on behalf of the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
Written remarks by Rodas said, “I thought I was going to help place children in loving homes. Instead, I discovered that children are being trafficked through a sophisticated network that begins with being recruited in their home country, smuggled to the U.S. border, and ends when ORR delivers a child to a sponsor.”
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