Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs is once again calling the Biden administration out for its treatment of unaccompanied alien minors. Biggs is demanding answers in response to Project Veritas’ new video today that features a whistleblower working within a federal government agency called the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity & Efficiency [CIGIE].
The Biden Administration must be more stringent with its vetting of sponsors.
Unaccompanied children cannot be given to dangerous actors like this. https://t.co/QHglEQNeuC
— Rep Andy Biggs (@RepAndyBiggsAZ) November 29, 2022
In March, the Biden administration admitted losing nearly 20,000 migrant children, according to Biggs. Biggs said It took the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) five months to come clean and respond to him.
Biggs had asked the Administration in September 2021, for information on unaccompanied alien children (UACs) referred to the care and custody of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
The response was shocking, but not surprising. Of the 146,000 children in total that had been intercepted, processed and released to sponsors in FY 2021, 19,726 of them could not be reached for a follow-up by ORR.
Andrew Arthur of the Center For Immigration Studies noted, “When the Trump administration had the same issue (on less than a tenth of scale) in 2018, USA Today trumpeted the headline “The feds lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children”. Applying that standard, the Biden administration has “lost — yes, lost” nearly 20,000 kids.”
ORR contractors, such as Southwest Key and Family Endeavors, shelter the children in the short term while finding sponsors. Once the minor is turned over to what are often barely vetted sponsors, they are discharged from ORR and the “custodial relationship” with the minor ends.
Jennifer M. Cannistra, Acting Assistant Secretary for Children and Families, in her response to Biggs, claimed that ORR successfully connected with 108,981 of the UACs through “Safety and Well-Being Follow Up Calls,” putting the status of the 19,726 unreachable sponsors/children, in the lost category.
Cannistra explained the shoddy placement and follow-up process in her response to Biggs:
“Once a child is released to the care and custody of a vetted sponsor, ORR’s legal custody ends. In the event the sponsor is unable to provide care and custody for the child, and if they are not the child’s parent or legal guardian, the Sponsor Care Agreement provides instructions to contact ORR’s National Call Center (NCC) for support.
Although ORR has no legal custody after a child is discharged, ORR does follow-up by phone with both the sponsor and child after the child is released from ORR care to help continue and facilitate a child’s successful transition into the community and encourage permanency. The purpose of the call is to determine if the child is still residing with a sponsor, is enrolled, or attending school, is aware of any upcoming court dates, and is safe. ORR care providers’ designated staff attempt to contact both the sponsor and the child during these calls and determine if either the sponsor a child with benefit from additional support or services.”
UACs are often victims of human trafficking and the process employed by ORR to place them with sponsors does little to nothing to guarantee that the victimization does not continue after they land in the U.S.
As previously reported in the Arizona Daily Independent, in 2014, the Obama administration put UACs in cages set up in the Border Patrol complex in Nogales and they were then transferred to Tucson where untold numbers of them were handed over to human traffickers.
Border Patrol agents were ordered to turn over UACs to people whose phone numbers they possessed — without vetting the recipients of these children.
A year later, Arizona State Representatives called for an investigation into Southwest Key facilities. The request for an investigation followed revelations reported by the Arizona Daily Independent and U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) about the trafficking of the children.
According to Grassley, children were often placed with convicted criminals. Grassley found that children were turned over to sponsors with criminal histories that include domestic violence, homicide, child molestation, sexual assault and human trafficking.