Senator Josh Hawley says US authorities have ‘lost’ at least 85,000 unaccompanied migrant children
The administration of President Joe Biden is “morally responsible” for the fate of approximately 85,000 migrant children who are believed to have disappeared in the United States after arriving at the country’s southern border as unaccompanied minors, US Senator Josh Hawley said in a letter calling for an FBI investigation into the question.
“The FBI must mount a full-scale effort to locate these missing children and bring to justice the criminals who hold them in modern-day slavery,” Hawley said Thursday in a letter to the agency. He added that the FBI must also investigate the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). “for their role in facilitating the exploitation of these children, in violation of the law”.
Illegal border crossings and arrests of unaccompanied minors have reached unprecedented heights since Biden took office in January 2021 and quickly pledged not to deport children who arrive at the border without their families. Instead, children are sent to live with adult sponsors inside the United States, whether or not they have a legitimate asylum claim. Republican lawmakers have accused Biden’s policies of encouraging the trafficking of migrant children to the United States, creating a humanitarian crisis.
Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, said about 345,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border since the start of 2021. HHS has apparently lost contact with as many as 85,000 of those children. “Thousands of these children now fall prey to child labor criminals,” he said. “The Biden administration is morally responsible for their fate.”
In addition to letting migrant children into the United States, rather than forcing them to wait for their immigration process to complete across the border, the administration has eased the process of vetting sponsors with whom minors are placed, Hawley claimed. At the same time, whistleblowers who raise policy concerns have faced retaliation.
“As a result, thousands of children were handed over to modern-day slave traders,” Hawkley said. “They are forced to work in the factory under harsh conditions. They are forced to manufacture car parts, process meat in slaughterhouses and re-roof houses.
They are deprived of food, education and sometimes fear for their lives. They suffer from sexual violence. In a country that claims to value the rule of law and the protection of children, this is unacceptable.
The FBI must make missing children a top priority, the senator said. He demanded that the agency report to him by May 25 on the fate of the migrant minors and on the prosecutions initiated as a result of the investigation.