Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley grilled Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas at a Tuesday hearing over children being trafficked across the U.S.-Mexico border and used as forced labor.
Hawley accused Mayorkas of allowing thousands of unaccompanied migrant minors to come across the border illegally and pressuring agencies to skip the vetting process for the children as a political move. The senator read a report from The New York Times, which stated that Mayorkas “began loosening vetting restrictions” to quicken the process.
“You have at every stage facilitated this modern day indentured servitude of minor children,” Hawley told Mayorkas. “Why should you not be impeached for this?”
“Senator, I look forward to discussing this issue further because you are misstating the facts so terribly—” the DHS secretary began.
“I am reading you the facts from articles in the news and your usual modus operandi is, which you are doing again today, which is to deny, deny, deny. Why have you permitted 345,000 children to come into this country unaccompanied? Why have you permitted thousands of them to be abused and exploited?” Hawley continued. (RELATED: ‘Disgraceful’: Ted Cruz Rips Into Biden’s DHS Secretary For Refusing To Say There’s A Border Crisis)
Mayorkas argued that is was “stunning” that Hawley previously credited former President Donald Trump’s administration with reuniting separated migrant families. Hawley immediately accused Mayorkas of blaming the Trump administration for the current crisis migrant children face in the United States.
“A moment ago, you were crowing about how you treat children so well, and yet we find tens of thousands of children who are forced to work as slaves because of your policies and you turn around and blame a prior administration,” Hawley said. “Mr. Secretary, this is par for the course for you. You do it every time you appear before this committee, you do it every time you appear before Congress. I, for one, am sick and tired of it and thousands of children are in physical danger — danger — because of what you are doing. You should’ve resigned long ago. And if you cannot change course, you should be removed from office.”
The Trump administration’s zero tolerance policy on illegal immigration separated thousands of migrant children from their parents. President Joe Biden’s administration also separated families through detention and deportation, following its interior immigration enforcement practices, the National Immigration and Justice Center reported in 2022.
Nearly 40.3 million people are in modern slavery as of 2016, with 1 in 4 being children, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported. Women and girls make up 99% of the commercial sex industry.
The number of illegal migrants apprehended at the border surged during the Biden administration in comparison to the Trump administration. In 2020, Trump final year in office, Border Patrol apprehended a total of 458,088 migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the CBP. These numbers have continuously exceeded 1 million since Biden took office in 2021.
Republican Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs filed articles of impeachment against Mayorkas in Feb. 2023 over his handling of the surging migration at the border.