President Joe Biden’s deputies are making it easier for U.S.-based illegal migrants to import and pick up more so-called Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) at government shelters run by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Officials told reporters on Friday they would end a 2018 policy set by President Donald Trump. The Trump policy allowed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to scrutinize the U.S.-based people who offered to sponsor children and teenagers being held at HHS shelters.
“There will not be any immigration enforcement consequences for a family member or a sponsor who comes forward to be united with an unaccompanied child in our care,” one of Biden’s deputies told reporters Friday afternoon.
The proposed fix to the current traffic jam at the border likely will increase the cross-border flow — because it gives the green light to illegal migrants living in the United States to import more of their left-behind children — and to traffic in more teenage workers into child-labor jobs.
In the current crush, many of the children and teenagers are overstaying the 72-hour limit in the bare-bones border facilities. During Trump’s term, such crowding prompted jeering from migration advocates about “kids in cages.” So Biden’s deputies are using the media’s narrative of “kids in cages” as an excuse to remove curbs on the movement of more children and youths into the United States.
Many illegal migrants choose to leave all or some of their children behind in their home country as they sneak across the border or jump through the asylum and Flores border loopholes. The new Biden policy allows the large population of recently arrived migrants to get their children delivered to the border by paid coyotes — and then delivered to their U.S. homes by taxpayer-funded federal agencies.
But the Trump 2018 policy was adopted also because poor foreign parents agreed to let traffickers move their older teenagers into low-wage U.S. jobs until they worked off their smuggling debts — with interest.
A March 11 report by BuzzFeed News suggests that 35 percent of the current youth migrants claim to be 17, and 24 percent claim to be 16.
Biden’s officials insisted in a March 12 statement that “the new agreement does not change safeguards designed to ensure unaccompanied children are unified with properly vetted sponsors who can safely care for them while they await immigration proceedings.”
Outside the DHS, the view is quite different.
“Honestly, I think almost everyone in the system knows that most of the [migrant] teens are coming to work and send money back home,” Maria Woltjen, executive director and founder of the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, told a ProPublica reporter: “They want to help their parents,” she said in a November 2020 article.
ProPublica cited the case of Garcia, a Guatemalan youth who used the UAC loophole in 2018:
He was 15 and he had debts to pay, starting with the roughly $3,000 he owed for the “coyote” who guided him across Mexico from Guatemala. To finance the trip, his parents had taken out a bank loan, using their house as collateral. If he didn’t repay it, the family could lose its home.
Within a week of arriving, Garcia accompanied his aunt and uncle to the factory where they worked making auto parts. He got hired on a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift, cleaning newly made screws and bolts with an air blow gun. Workers wore safety goggles to protect their eyes from the shards of metal that blew in their faces. It was a dirty job. “I didn’t like it, working with so many oily parts,” he recalled. “And it was dangerous.”
Garcia was not directly employed by the factory. Instead, he got the job through an “oficina,” the word Spanish-speaking immigrants use to describe the dozens of temporary staffing agencies that employ hundreds of thousands of workers in Illinois. In some cases, the [migrant] teens interviewed by ProPublica — all but one of them male — say they don’t even know the name of the staffing agency that employs them; it’s just the place where someone told them they could find work.
Estb. media is posting many stories about migrant”‘children” crossing the border — but 70%+ are teenagers, many of whom are (rationally) seeking jobs.
IOW, Biden’s DHS & estb. media are waiving in huge numbers of Latino child workers. #CharlesDickenshttps://t.co/cfWf1Bz9ic
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 5, 2021
In February 2016, the Washington Post‘s editorial board warned officials of labor trafficking into a hidden child-labor economy:
A recently released Senate report confirmed that HHS in 2014 placed at least six children with a ring of human traffickers, who then forced them to work at Trillium egg farm in Ohio for as little as $2 a day. According to a 2015 criminal indictment, the children were subjected to inhumane treatment — forced to work six or seven days a week, 12 hours a day, and the traffickers “repeatedly threatened the victims and their families with physical harm, and even death, if they did not work or surrender their entire paychecks.” The children were housed in trailers with “no bed, no heat, no hot water, no working toilets, and vermin.”
The Trillium trafficking case is symptom of a wider problem with monitoring unaccompanied minors once they enter the United States. The Senate report noted 13 other cases of post-placement trafficking of minors, with 15 more cases indicating signs of possible trafficking. Inexcusable gaps in HHS policies and procedures led to unaccompanied minors being placed with sponsors or relevant adults in a household without background checks.
The [Obama] administration says that it has strengthened its background-check procedures and that adults with serious criminal offenses are now disqualified from becoming sponsors … HHS and the Department of Homeland Security urgently need to establish a clear agreement as to which federal agency is responsible for monitoring the welfare of unaccompanied minors from the time they are placed with a sponsor until the time of their immigration hearings.
A 2016 Washington Post article explained the egg-farm labor trafficking scandal:
[O]ne Guatemalan boy planned to live with his uncle in Virginia. But when the uncle refused to take the boy, he ended up with another sponsor, who forced him to work nearly 12 hours a day to repay a $6,500 smuggling debt, which the sponsor later increased to $10,900, the report said.
One defendant, Aroldo Castillo-Serrano, 33, used associates to file false applications with the government agency tasked with caring for the children, and bring them to Ohio, where he kept them in squalid conditions in a trailer park and forced them to work 12-hour days, at least six days a week, for little pay.
Amid the border crush, pro-migration groups are pushing for even looser rules to help more migrants get into the United States. For example, some advocates want border agencies to allow foreign relatives to escort younger migrants through the border and HHS processes. According to a March 7 report in USAToday:
Other times, a grandparent who has raised the child since birth will take the arduous journey with them and arrive at the U.S. border – only to be separated from the child for weeks or maybe months, [Lisa Koop, associate director of legal services at the National Immigrant Justice Center] said.
“There should be a way legally for the children to be essentially reunified in place with the adult caregiver without having to go through the entire system,” she said.
Many of those demands will likely be approved by Alejandro Mayoras, the pro-migration advocate who is now secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.
“The numbers are enormous, and we are working through it, and we have plans that we will be unveiling shortly to bring order to that,” he told Univision anchor Jorge Ramos in a March 12 interview.
Mayorkas admitted some of the young migrants are picked up by traffickers:
What we need to do as a nation is, we need to invest and address the root causes so that parents do not need to send their children alone to leave their countries of origin, to leave their homes, to traverse Mexico, only to get to get to the southern border and to be placed in the hands of traffickers.
But Mayorkas also indicated he believes Americans have no choice but to watch as progressives extract an unending flow of poor migrants for use in Americans’ homeland:
What we are seeing is a pent-up demand for freedom and humanity, because, over the last four years, the border has been closed, our asylum laws have not been honored and our country’s values have not been advanced.
I’m incredibly proud to be in this administration and to serve a president who has made a commitment and lived up to that commitment to restore our nation’s identity as a nation of immigrants and also a nation of laws.
Mayorkas claims the United States is a “Nation of Immigrants.” But more than 85 percent of Americans were born in America. and more than 50 percent favor a sharp reduction in the annual inflow of one million legal immigrants. Only about one-in-eight Americans favor policies to increase migration numbers, such as Mayorkas’s current policy of raising the inflow of Central American migrants through the 2008 Unaccompanied Alien Child back door.
The Trump 2018 policy was crafted when officials recognized many of the sponsors are not in the United States legally and were using coyotes — and the federal agencies — to deliver their Central American children to their addresses throughout the United States.
“We’ve arrested 41 individuals thus far that we’ve identified,” Matthew Albence, acting chief of ICE, said in September 2018. “Close to 80 percent of the individuals that are either sponsors or household members of sponsors are here in the country illegally, and a large chunk of those are criminal aliens,” he added.
Roughly one-third of would-be sponsors backed out during the period when the policy was in effect, according to a pro-migration organization.
However, in 2019, Republican legislators let Democrats impose a legislative ban on the 2018 policy, largely ending the arrest and deportation of illegal migrant sponsors:
The GOP is changing its language on the border rush, and is emphasizing the damage done to migrants by the corporate Democrats’ welcome policy.
This could be awkward for Democrats, who are ignoring the trafficking of Latino teens into child-labor jobs. https://t.co/a7lsug21Pl
— Neil Munro (@NeilMunroDC) March 12, 2021