(The Center Square) – Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody called on Congress on Tuesday to investigate the Biden administration for what she described as “subjecting unaccompanied minors to human trafficking.”
Moody did so after reporting the findings of a Florida statewide grand jury “documenting horrible conditions unaccompanied minors experience because of the Biden administration’s failed policies and lack of oversight.”
“A Florida Grand Jury found shocking and horrific evidence of the Biden administration facilitating human trafficking and child exploitation of unaccompanied minors,” Moody said. “It should enrage everyone that any child is being exposed to such dangerous and terrible conditions. I’m calling on Congress to conduct hearings to further the investigation and uncover the evidence that HHS refused to provide to Florida’s Statewide Grand Jury.”
This is the second time she’s called on Congress to act in a week. Last week, she called on Congress to impeach Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, claiming he’s violated federal law, lied multiple times under oath before Congress, and is endangering American lives.
In her letter sent to the leaders of the House and Senate this week, she implored them to convene hearings to investigate the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Department of Health and Human Services over its handling and placement of unaccompanied foreign national children in the U.S. after whistle blowers alleged abuse and exploitation and after the findings of the grand jury report were released.
The grand jury’s report details how these federal agencies are facilitating and overseeing the placement of unaccompanied minors who’ve illegally entered the U.S. to be placed with unrelated individuals and put in situations “where they are subject to abuse, including rape, molestation, and effectively forced to work to pay for their travel to the United States in violation of child labor laws,” her letter states. “Congress should convene hearings and act to prevent any child from being assaulted or exploited.”
A Honduran man claiming to be a minor illegally entered Texas and was placed with a sponsor in Jacksonville, whom he subsequently killed. After local Florida law enforcement discovered he was actually 24, Gov. Ron DeSantis petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to empanel a grand jury to investigate criminal or wrongful activity relating to the smuggling or endangerment of unaccompanied children in the country illegally. Last June, the state supreme court granted his petition and empaneled a statewide grand jury. It launched its investigation six months ago.
On March 29, it released its third presentment, which describes the operations of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement “trafficking children throughout the United States to be sexually abused or forced into unlawful child labor,” Moody said, citing the findings of the report. ORR was “fully focused on maximizing the number of children they can process, heedless of the downstream consequences to either the children or the communities into which they are jettisoned,” the grand jury found.
The grand jury also found that ORR and other federal agencies encouraged unaccompanied children “to undertake and/or be subjected to a harrowing trek to our border, ultimately abandoning significant numbers of those who survive the journey to an uncertain fate with persons who are largely unvetted.” They also found they were exposed “to horrifying health conditions, constant criminal threat, labor and sex trafficking, robbery, rape, and other experiences not done justice by mere words.”
They found that DHS and HHS didn’t cross reference their databases to detect whether someone was falsely claiming to be a minor or had previously illegally entered the U.S. They also found that ORR hired case managers with “no experience,” were “provided little to no training” and “are actively discouraged from independently investigating” legitimate addresses where the minors were sent. Some case managers testified they were ordered by ORR not to verify the addresses, according to the report.
Under the Biden administration, HHS eliminated the proof of address requirement for potential sponsors, they also found. Case managers testified that they didn’t visit home placements or that addresses approved included strip clubs or non-residential addresses.
Children testified before the grand jury that they were “pimped out” by someone claiming to be a family member they didn’t know, or they were forced to drop out of school to work to pay off debt owed to smugglers.
Moody points out that Biden administration officials in HHS “refused to provide documents or produce witnesses before the Grand Jury and apparently actively encouraged the Florida entities with which it has contracted to not cooperate with the Grand Jury,” noting that, “Presumably, HHS and DHS will not be as flippant and obstructive to Congress as they were with the Grand Jury.”
She called on congressional leaders regardless of party affiliation to fully investigate the agencies, suggesting, “surely we can agree that facilitating sexual assault and child labor is reprehensible.”
Moody also said there needs to be greater transparency about ORR placement with the states. Flying children into states “in the dark of night or otherwise keeping the States in the dark, in the end, just harms the children involved and that is inexcusable and disgraceful,” she said.
By Bethany Blankley | The Center Square contributor