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Secretary Xavier Becerra is Biden’s Child Labor Kingpin

author Published by Chris Chmielenski

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) takes a lot of the heat for the crumbling border and the chaos it causes in our communities for good reason. The Republicans in the House of Representatives are talking seriously about impeaching Secretary Mayorkas for his total abdication of responsibility to enforce our immigration laws and for endangering the public he’s sworn to protect. But a shocking (if you have not been reading this blog) New York Times investigation should put Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Beccera squarely in the crosshairs of House oversight efforts.

The New York Times outlines a grim picture we at this blog have been covering for months. It is a story of child exploitation in our labor market. It is a story of children the Biden Administration claims to treat with compassion, instead being abandoned to any warm body who will take them and then subsequently being exploited by unscrupulous employers, including some of the largest companies in the United States: WalMart, Target, and Ben & Jerry’s. From the New York Times:

“These workers are part of a new economy of exploitation: Migrant children, who have been coming into the United States without their parents in record numbers, are ending up in some of the most punishing jobs in the country, a New York Times investigation found. This shadow work force extends across industries in every state, flouting child labor laws that have been in place for nearly a century. Twelve-year-old roofers in Florida and Tennessee. Underage slaughterhouse workers in Delaware, Mississippi and North Carolina. Children sawing planks of wood on overnight shifts in South Dakota.”

You may be wondering how the HHS Secretary plays into a story of child exploitation in the immigration system. The child labor covered by the Times is by unaccompanied alien children (UAC). This is a category of migrants who are encountered at the border without their parents or a legal guardian. These alien minors are subject to special procedural protections unavailable to other migrants encountered at the border. One of the key protections is that UACs are delivered to HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). It is the job of HHS to house UACs and locate a parent or appropriate legal guardian to take custody of and care for the UACs.

HHS is not a law enforcement agency, and the idea was that they would treat the UACs with more compassion and care than DHS. Boy, was Congress wrong. Under the guise of the Biden Administration’s expressed good intentions of being compassionate to migrant children, the New York Times has uncovered a cold and callous HHS shipping children to sponsors with no vetting and no oversight of the child’s treatment after they depart custody.

Secretary Becerra told Congress in 2021, “We don’t want to continue to see a child languish in our care if there is a responsible sponsor.”. We find out now his definition of what constitutes a “responsible sponsor” is anyone with a pulse. It doesn’t matter if they are a parent or relative to the UAC, Becerra just wanted them out of his custody and off the front-page headlines.

Only a third of UACs are delivered to their parents (many of whom are in the United States illegally) by HHS, according to the Times. Many are sent to acquaintances or even strangers. Instead of vetting these sponsors before they take custody of children, HHS reduced protections, including nixing background checks or reviewing children’s files. For the sake of virtue signaling and public relations optics, children were being passed with minimal oversight, to anyone willing to take them. It turns out, a lot of these folks turned out to be people looking for kids to put to work for profit. According to a former HHS employee, they had to release twenty percent of the kids every week or face discipline. An ORR memo in 2021 said the office was “one that rewards individuals for making quick releases, and not one that rewards individuals for preventing unsafe releases.”

How is this not family separation? Unaccompanied children are being sent to live with acquaintances and strangers to serve the demands of Secretary Becerra and get them out of his hair. After all the outrage about President Trump and the child separation policy, read this quote outlining how many children Secretary Becerra has lost contact with after pushing them out the door with nothing but a wing and a prayer:

“While H.H.S. checks on all minors by calling them a month after they begin living with their sponsors, data obtained by The Times showed that over the last two years, the agency could not reach more than 85,000 children. Overall, the agency lost immediate contact with a third of migrant children.”

Where is the Biden Family Reunification Task Force to locate the children his own HHS Secretary has lost to the shadows of labor trafficking? Does anyone suspect these children are safe and sound with loving families? Secretary Becerra has presided over an entire generation of lost children, many of whom are now slaving away for the same corporations seeking more and more migrants.

This is still not enough to satisfy Secretary Becerra’s demands to release the children to labor traffickers. In a staff meeting, he was quoted as saying about the process of releasing UACs, “If Henry Ford had seen this in his plants, he would have never become famous and rich. This is not the way you do an assembly line.” This should be a quote that follows him until the end of his career. And the resulting mass child labor of UACs released from his custody is exactly what you would expect when they are treated as products on an assembly line.

According to the Times, the HHS spokeswoman defended the Secretary’s stance and said he would do it again. They also reported Becerra is threatening to fire the ORR director if they do not further speed up the assembly line of releases to labor traffickers.

This is an assembly line of child exploitation and counts as one of the biggest scandals of the Biden Administration. The path to hell is paved with good intentions, and Secretary Becerra is just pumping the gas. Becerra’s policies lead to stories like that of Carolina Yoc, 15, working at midnight on, of all things, an assembly line at a factory. Her factory was full of underage workers burning the midnight oil. And the employers and Congress tell us they cannot find American workers! Those darn American workers are sticklers for not putting their children on the assembly line.

Secretary Becerra is the driving force making this quote from the Times a reality:

“The Times spoke with more than 100 migrant child workers in 20 states who described jobs that were grinding them into exhaustion, and fears that they had become trapped in circumstances they never could have imagined. The Times examination also drew on court and inspection records and interviews with hundreds of lawyers, social workers, educators and law enforcement officials.

In town after town, children scrub dishes late at night. They run milking machines in Vermont and deliver meals in New York City. They harvest coffee and build lava rock walls around vacation homes in Hawaii. Girls as young as 13 wash hotel sheets in Virginia.”

I have been ringing the alarm bells on growing examples of child labor for a while now. Also, please do not forget the slavery, discrimination and wage theft that is ongoing and spreading like wildfire. This is the cost of open-border policies, no matter how compassionate they sound or seem. It is no secret or surprise that some of the biggest champions of expanding immigration and reducing enforcement are the major corporations. Big business benefits from a bloated labor market that drives down workers’ wages. They also benefit from an overwhelmed enforcement bureaucracy that cannot protect the vast number of migrants flooding into the United States. Until E-Verify is mandated to require all employers nationwide to verify the legal status of their employees, and the number of migrants is reduced dramatically to be proportional to the government’s ability to oversee them, Big Business will profit and workers—and children—will suffer.

Secretary Becerra, in the name of freeing these children from government custody, has become the government’s biggest child-labor trafficker. The fact that his spokesperson doubled down and defended his actions means we can expect nothing but the same going forward. More children will be shipped to labor traffickers and spend their youth being chewed up for the benefit of a company’s bottom line. That’s the real American nightmare and Secretary Becerra is Freddy Kreuger. If President Biden is serious about compassion it is time to shut down Secretary Becerra’s child labor assembly line.

JARED CULVER is a Legal Analyst for NumbersUSA

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