Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said Tuesday that unaccompanied minors at the southern border are being used for sex trafficking and child labor.
The comments come after whistleblowers said the Biden administration ignored warnings that migrant children were at risk of being exploited for labor or sex trafficking, according to The New York Times. The Department of Labor initiated an investigation into snack factories for child labor violations in February.
“We know that Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement has completely lost track of 85,000 children that have come into this country,” Blackburn told Fox News host Harris Faulkner. “We know that you have got over 250,000 unaccompanied alien children and they can’t find 85,000 of them?” (RELATED: ‘It’s Clearly An F’: Sen. Mitt Romney Asks Mayorkas To Grade Biden Admin’s Border Security Efforts)
“You reference the whistleblower and what we’re hearing is that many of these children are going to individuals who want to use them as child labor. This is something that has to stop,” Blackburn continued. “The fact that they do not know if these children are being trafficked, if they are in gangs, if they are being used for drug trafficking, sex trafficking.”
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) encountered over 2.3 million migrants in fiscal year 2022, while another 600,000 migrants evaded CBP that fiscal year, Fox News reported. CBP reported encountering 230,000 people in October, the first month of fiscal year 2023, another 233,470 people in November, the second month of fiscal year 2023 and over 250,000 in December.
“These children being sent to people that are using them for labor or putting them into gangs or for sex trafficking,” Blackburn said. “This is modern day slavery.”
Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa told the Obama administration in November 2015 that whistleblowers reported similar exploitation of unaccompanied minors, according to a Nov. 24, 2015 release.
“The federal government has been misusing and losing track of children for a very long time,” Faulkner said. “That number, 85,000, didn’t just happen overnight.”
The Department of Health and Human Services did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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