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Whistleblower: US gov’t is ‘middleman’ giving migrant children to traffickers

Apr 27


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New testimony from a whistleblower has accused the U.S. government of being involved in human trafficking. Tara Lee Rodas, an employee at the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, testified before Congress on Wednesday, April 26, and alleged that the U.S. government is serving as a “middleman” to deliver migrant children to human traffickers.

“I thought I was going to help place children in loving homes. Instead, I discovered that children are being trafficked through a sophisticated network that begins with recruiting in their home country, smuggled to the U.S. border, and ends when [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] delivers a child to a sponsor — some sponsors are criminals and traffickers and members of Transnational Criminal Organizations,” Rodas said. “Some sponsors view children as commodities and assets to be used for earning income — this is why we are witnessing an explosion of labor trafficking.”

Rodas, who has spent time with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), told lawmakers that she witnessed children being compelled into forced labor and other forms of slavery. This included children made to “work overnight shifts at slaughterhouses, factories, [and] restaurants,” while others were “sold for sex.”

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, over the past two years, more than 250,000 migrant children have entered the United States alone. These children incur smuggling costs to make it across the border and are then compelled to pay off their debt to the smugglers through forced labor.

Rodas accused the U.S. government of being complicit in these schemes by delivering children to these smugglers posing as sponsors, perpetuating a crisis that has gone on for nearly a decade.

Some cases have involved sponsors using multiple addresses in order to obtain more sponsorships of children to utilize for labor.

“Realizing that we were not offering children the American dream, but instead putting them in modern-day slavery with wicked overlords, was a terrible revelation,” Rodas said.

HHS checks on all minors by calling them a month after they begin living with their sponsors. However, The New York Times revealed data showing over the last two years the department lost immediate contact with about a third of the migrant children they delivered. The Times also spoke with more than 60 child welfare caseworkers hired by the federal government, a majority of whom estimated that around two-thirds of unaccompanied migrant children ended up working fulltime.

“As the government, we’ve turned a blind eye to their trafficking,” said Doug Gilmer, a resident special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations. “It’s happening everywhere.”

A White House spokesperson responded to the accusations, saying that the Biden administration will now increase scrutiny of its vetting process for sponsors. Meanwhile, Rodas is hopeful that her testimony will bring about more change that prevents traffickers from continuing to exploit migrant children.

“My goal is to inspire action to safeguard the lives of migrant children, including the staggering 85,000 that are missing,” Rodas said.

An earlier version of this post presented Rodas’ allegations as fact. Straight Arrow News updated this report at 2:04 p.m. on April 27, 2023 and regrets the error.

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