During a Senate hearing Tuesday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas refused to explain why an exponential surge in child smuggling and exploitation has happened under his watch and denied that the Department had lost track of 85,000 of these children.
Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2021, 345,807 unaccompanied minors have been allowed to enter the United States through the southwest land border, U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics show.
As American Greatness has previously reported, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) habitually releases migrant children to unvetted “sponsors” who force them to take on grueling jobs, or be sexually exploited. In some cases, dozens of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) have been sent to the same residence of an unvetted sponsor.
Thousands of these minors “have ended up in punishing jobs across the country—working overnight in slaughterhouses, replacing roofs, operating machinery in factories—all in violation of child labor laws,” the New York Times reported in February.
In Florida, the State Grand Jury recently released a report accusing the Biden administration of facilitating “forced migration, sale, and abuse of foreign children” through its criminally negligent immigration policies.
“Criminal history, lack of citizen status and even total refusal to submit to a background check does not disqualify sponsors from receiving a UAC,” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody pointed out in a statement following the release of the Grand Jury’s findings. “One sponsor was given custody despite having been to Florida prison before for battery on a child,” Moody added.
Monthly calls to Health and Human Services (HHS) to report trafficking, neglect or abuse of minors placed with sponsors have exploded since the spring of 2021.
“The Biden administration “ignored or missed” this explosive growth of child labor, the NYT reported on Monday.
In March of 2021, when images of men, women, and children packed like sardines into “pods” and sleeping under foil blankets in overflow centers dominated the news, Susan Rice, the White House’s head of domestic policy, “told staff members she was frustrated with the situation, according to the Times.
Not long after that, the Department of Health and Human Services reportedly “began loosening its vetting restrictions and urging case managers to speed the process along.”
Mayorkas told Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing Tuesday that he was unaware of the number of unaccompanied children who have illegally crossed the border, but insisted that the department is “incredibly dedicated to the safety and security of those children.”
“Do you know what’s happening to these children? Have you seen this report from the New York Times: Alone and Exploited, Migrant Children Work Brutal Jobs Across the U.S.?” Hawley demanded.
Mayorkis said that he hadn’t.
Hawley displayed the chart showing the “explosive growth” of child labor since Biden came into office.
“I can’t believe this happens in the United States of America in this day and age,” Hawley chided. Citing the NYT’s report, he said, “far from home, many of these children feel intense pressure to earn money. They have to send cash back home to their families while often being in debt to their sponsors for smuggling fees, rent, and living expenses.
You taking children from other countries and putting them into indentured servitude — all facilitated by your policies. Are you proud of this record?
“Senator, horrific exploitation of children is something we do not condone,” Mayorkis replied. “You are incorrectly attributing it to out policies.
Look at the chart!” Hawley shot back. “This massive surge began when you came to office. In your first year in office there was a 342 percent surge of unaccompanied children across the border!”
Citing a CBS report, Hawley noted that the Biden administration’s policy changes had led smugglers to tell migrant youth that they had a better chance of being allowed into the country than they had under Trump.
“Meanwhile, you’ve lost track of tens of thousands of them,” he said. “The Times reviewed data that showed the government couldn’t reach more than 85,000 of these children! Who you just turned over into the hands of smugglers and these are modern day slave traders! And you’re just giving these children to them. What is going on. Why are you doing this?”
Again, Mayorkis claimed there were “a number of factual inaccuracies” in the reports Hawley cited, and began to explain what the department was doing to mitigate the crisis.
Hawley interrupted him to insist on an answer to his question.
“Why is it that you enabled 345,000 children to be smuggled across this border and then sent into the hands of modern day slave traders?” he demanded.
Hawley noted that in 2021, the Biden regime exempted minors arriving at the border without their parents from being subject to Title 42, allowing them “to come into the United States and then to be sent into the interior of the country.”
“Under the last administration, the children were reunited with their families in their home country. You changed that and as soon as you changed it, the numbers exploded,” he added.
“Quite a number of false statements, Senator,” the DHS chief responded.
“What is false about that statement?!” Hawley demanded.
Mayorkis refused to answer, and instead recited his talking points about what the Department plans to do to solve the problem.
“One of the significant policy decisions that we have made is to focus our worksite enforcement, investigative efforts, criminal investigative efforts on unscrupulous employers,” he told Hawley.
Unimpressed, Hawley summed up what he believed caused the crisis.
“You changed Title 42, you allowed hundreds of thousands of migrant children to come across the border and then you made it worse,” he said. “When it became a political crisis for you—when that huge surge of children came across the border because you changed Title 42—when it became an optics crisis—what did you do? You began pressuring officials and agencies to skip the vetting process and get these kids out as soon as possible to sponsors who weren’t vetted,” the senator continued.
“You have at every stage facilitated this modern-day indentured servitude of minor children! Hawley exclaimed. “Why should you not be impeached for this?” he asked incredulously.
Mayokis once again accused the senator of “misstating the facts,” prompting the senator to slam him for using the same modus operandi he always does to “deny, deny, deny.”
“Why have you permitted 345,000 children to come into this country unaccompanied. Why have you permitted thousands of them to be abused and exploited?” he demanded.
“What we do is enforce the law,” Mayorkis replied. “It is stunning to me that you say the prior administration reunited children with their parents,” the DHS director added.
“Oh, I see. So this is their [the Trump administration’s] fault. So you’re not going to take any responsibility for the indentured servitude and exploitation of children that is happening under your watch!” Hawley exclaimed. “Thousands of children are in physical danger—danger because of what you’re doing! You should have resigned long ago,” the senator concluded.