Individuals associated with human trafficking organizations are asking Health and Human Services officials to hand over the children who have immigrated to the United States during the recent border surge, according to a congressman who toured a facility where the children are being housed.
HHS is trying to release the children to sponsors in the United States, but those sponsors aren’t always parents. “There have been cases of people who have attempted to be sponsors actually being identified as associated with trafficking organizations,” Representative Jim Bridenstine (R., Okla) told National Review Online after visiting a housing facility at Fort Sill.
“And they kept saying ‘we’ll have to get more information on that because we don’t have the numbers,’” Bridenstine said during a Saturday afternoon phone interview. ”But, it has happened. Again, I’m talking to a lower-level individual at one facility in Oklahoma, so it’s hard for me to say definitively that this is a large-scale problem, but it was very clear that it has happened.”
Bridenstine said that the traffickers exploit the children they’re bringing into the country, especially if the parents who are supposed to pay for the trafficking fail to come up with the money.
“If you can’t pay your coyote or your criminal organization, they will force you into slave labor or they will force you into prostitution,” the congressman said. And of the children who did make it to American custody, “a significant percentage of the children in these facilities have been abused, in one way or another, coming to the United States,” according to Bridenstine.
Many others didn’t survive the trek. “There have been cases where the parents couldn’t pay, or somebody in the United States couldn’t pay, and large groups of these children have been, no kidding, massacred,” Bridenstine told NRO. ”And there are recent gravesites in Northern Mexico with a number of dead bodies.”
Bridenstine said that the children need to be sent back to their home countries so that parents in Central American stop sending their kids on such dangerous trips.
“We have a belief down in Central America that if you get here you can stay and that creates this demand to come north,” Bridenstine told NRO. ”I think we have to quell the demand signal from Central America that is causing these people to come into our country. I think what needs to happen is that the children need to be reunited with their families back in their home countries. That’s what needs to happen. It’s the only way we’re going to stop this massive inflow of unaccompanied alien children into our country.”