Republican senator Josh Hawley (Mo.) slammed the Biden administration for its failure to stop the widespread crisis of migrant children being forced into labor after crossing the border.
“This administration has let tens of thousands of children be sold into slavery,” Hawley said Wednesday. “They are doing nothing about it.”
Hawley referred to the scandal over the Health and Human Services Department’s controversial policies for dispersing migrant children after they cross the border and are processed. An April report by the New York Times showed documents proving the administration was quickly releasing unaccompanied migrant children into the country by the thousands. Many of those children ended up working grueling jobs, often for long hours and in dangerous conditions where they worked with chemicals and industrial equipment.
“It’s a conveyor belt of children being forced through the system, and what’s the priority of HHS? Just get ’em out as fast as we can,” Hawley said.
Hawley called out HHS secretary Xavier Becerra, who was named in the report and allegedly ignored warnings from employees. Five former HHS employees said they were even pushed out of the agency after they raised concerns about children’s safety.
“Again and again, veteran government staffers and outside contractors told the Health and Human Services Department, including in reports that reached Secretary Xavier Becerra, that children appeared to be at risk,” the Times reported in April.
Hawley said the administration’s refusal to come before the Senate and answer questions about the crisis is “cowardice.”
The Times report also implicated former domestic policy adviser Susan Rice. Rice and her team reportedly failed to act, even as administration staffers called for stricter vetting of the sponsors migrant children were placed with to prevent human trafficking. A week after the Times report, the White House announced that Rice would step down.
Further reports found that children were sent to the homes of unscreened adults, some of whom could have been registered sex offenders or had a history of child neglect.