The border crisis impacting the United States is worsening with the loss of contact with 4,890 unaccompanied children, of the 14,600 who entered the country illegally through the border with Mexico, between January and May, according to an investigation by Axios.
The former supervisor of the unaccompanied minors program during the Obama administration, Mark Greenberg, considered the data “very dismaying” according to the Sept.1 report.
He added: “If large numbers of children and sponsors aren’t being reached, that’s a very big gap in efforts to help them.”
Axios obtained the information from the response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) commented that once the minors were released to adults, the oversight disappeared.
“While we make every effort to voluntarily check on children after we unite them with parents or sponsors and offer certain post-unification services, we no longer have legal oversight once they leave our custody,” the official said.
These losses of contact could cover up various forms of exploitation of minors, options that are being investigated by the Justice Department, Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit (HTPU) Director Hilary Axam referred to on July 21.
“Some of these situations appear to involve dozens of unaccompanied minors all being released to the same sponsor and then exploited for labor in poultry processing or similar industries without access to education,” Axam said according to Bloomberg Law.
In this regard, members of Congress called the reports about the investigation “horrendous” and “intolerable,” and turned to the Biden administration for explanations.
“I’m thankful that federal law enforcement officials are investigating the matter, and I hope any individuals committing this heinous crime are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Rep. Barry Moore (R-Alabama) said in a statement.
“The border crisis has significant national security and humanitarian impacts. The Biden administration needs to be held to account,” said Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Louisiana).
Additionally, certain irregularities are noted in the tracking of minors who are released from government custody.
One notes that between President Biden’s inauguration and the end of May, HHS released 32,000 children and adolescents. Still, according to the FOIA response, the government made fewer than 15,000 follow-up calls, less than half of the statutory ones.
The overflow of illegal immigration peaked in July, when 212,672 apprehensions were made, the most in a single month since March 2000, when 220,063 were recorded.
On the other hand, much of the border crisis has come to be addressed by the governors of the border states, as is the case in Texas, where the budget was tripled to try to control it.
“The situation at our border is a failure of federal leadership and an entirely avoidable disaster,” state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee, told the Tribune on Sept. 1.
She added: “For months, we have heard about the horrors faced by those making their journey north, about crime and drugs pouring into our communities, about human trafficking, and the spread of [COVID-19]. We have pleaded with the federal government to act, and they are not listening.”