Justin Bullock, FISM News
The crisis at the US-Mexico border is getting worse each day. There are over 18,000 immigrant children currently held in custody by the US government and this number is continually rising. Some of these children have illegally immigrated into the US with their families as part of the thousands of refugees from Central and South America that have been flooding across the border. Other children, have been sent into the US on their own, either seeking to join family members already here in the United States or being sent by desperate parents with smugglers in hopes of asylum. In all cases they are trying to escape the societal strife and gang violence that plagues many Central and South American countries.
President Biden established a task force at the beginning of his term with the express purpose of re-uniting these children refugees with their families. On June 2, 2021 the task force presented a report indicating that of the 3,900 children that have been officially identified as separate from their families, only 1,800 have been reunited with their families. However, the report also indicated that of those 1,800 children only seven children have been reunited with their families since February. The balance of these cases were achieved under the Trump administration before President Biden even came into office. In addition, the numbers discussed in the report constitute only a fraction of the number of children actually in custody.
Throughout his term, former President Trump received extensive criticism while in office for his handling of the thousands of child refugees at the border. However, despite promising changes, President Biden’s approach to the crisis has not substantially changed at all. In fact, President Biden has re-instated a program this month where tent camps, convention centers, and other similar large facilities will be run by private contractors and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in order to house the thousands of children at the border. The Associated Press (AP) reported that, “[t]hese emergency sites don’t have to be licensed by state authorities or provide the same services as permanent HHS facilities. They also cost far more, an estimated $775 per child per day.”
This represents a return to a Trump era policy, and at that time these privately run camps received sharp criticism due to safety concerns, living conditions, and lack of governmental oversight. These same concerns are now being raised once again and criticism is being leveled at the Biden White House. In addition to all of this, the Biden administration has announced that they will forgo the FBI background checks for volunteers and staffers working in the camps.
This shift presents a unique and significant danger to the children currently held in custody as the FBI background checks of potential caregivers, in particular the finger print checks, assured that malicious actors were not able to obtain positions caring for these children. Now, the Biden administration is allowing essentially anyone, including those people who may have criminal records, including violence against children, to work at the detention camps. The district attorney of Midlands, Texas, Laura Nodolf, told the AP that,
[W]e truly do not know who the individual is who is providing direct care… That’s placing the children under care of HHS in the path, potentially, of a sex offender… They are putting these children in a position of becoming potential victims.
Indeed the HHS inspector general, Christi Grimm, confirmed Nodolf’s concerns by warning the Biden White House that “FBI fingerprint checks “provide a unique safeguard” over most commercial background checks that search a person’s name,” as reported by the AP. The HHS inspector general went on to say, “[w]hile the various background checks could identify some past criminal convictions or sexual offenses, these checks were not as extensive as the FBI fingerprint background checks.”