Biden admin is ‘complicit’ in trafficking of unaccompanied minors: Gov’t whistleblowers

News & Politics

Federal government whistleblowers told senators on Tuesday that the Biden administration’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, within the Department of Health and Human Services, likely placed unaccompanied minors with child traffickers, neglecting to properly vet sponsors.

Deborah White and Tara Rodas, federal employees, stated that they first discovered that the ORR was placing children in “dangerous” situations in June 2021.

‘The most horrific injustice.’

After minors cross the border, Customs and Border Protection places unaccompanied children in the custody of HHS’ ORR. It is the department’s responsibility to find and vet sponsors to look after the minors. Its order of preference is first to try to turn the children over to parents or a legal guardian; however, according to Tuesday’s testimony to the panel of senators, this rarely occurs.

“What I discovered was horrifying: children were being trafficked with billions of taxpayer dollars by a contractor failing to vet sponsors and process children safely, with government officials complicit in it,” White stated. “Children were sent to addresses that were abandoned houses or nonexistent in some cases.”

“In Michigan, a child was sent to an open field, even after we reported making an [sic] 911 call after hearing someone screaming for help, yet the child was still sent,” White continued. “When I raised concerns about contractor failures and asked to see the contract I was told, ‘You’re not gonna get the contract and don’t ask for it again.’ So I took it upon myself to create trainings for significant incident reports of sexual abuse and for flagging trafficking, in order to equip case managers.”

According to White, despite reporting her concerns, the children continued to be sent to “dangerous places.”

“When we questioned documents, HHS ORR leadership said, ‘You’re not fake ID experts, and your job is not to investigate the sponsor. Your job is to reunify the child with the sponsor,'” White said.

Rodas told senators that the ORR did not meet with sponsors in person and noted that children were being placed with “random people.”

She explained that a 16-year-old girl from Guatemala was placed with a man who claimed to be the child’s brother, but it was “clear” that he was not. The female “looked drugged” and like “she was for sale” in pictures posted to the male’s social media. She added that the male was “touching her inappropriately” and possessed other accounts on social media that contained child pornography.

Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris claimed that only 10% of unaccompanied minors are placed with their parents.

“It defies logic and is inhumane,” Harris remarked.

Both White and Rodas claimed that the ORR and Cherokee Federal, a taxpayer-funded contractor tasked with resettling the unaccompanied children, ignored warning signs of potential trafficking operations.

White stated that Cherokee Federal staffed “several unqualified unvetted and quite frankly dangerous contractors with access to vulnerable children that did not get the appropriate support, services, or humanity they deserved after a most treacherous journey.”

She added that the stories she has heard from some of the children “will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

“HHS ORR leadership and the contractor allowed children to be trafficked on their watch and the taxpayers continue to fund it,” White said, calling the department’s program “the biggest failure in government history.”

“This is the most horrific injustice against children that I have witnessed in my entire federal career,” Rodas declared.

Neither HHS nor Cherokee Federal responded to a request for comment from the Post.

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