AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
One of the most tragic – and underreported – consequences of the ongoing crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border is the dramatic spike in the abuse and trafficking of children. Yet as part of their effort to downplay and ignore the horrific consequences of their immigration policies, the Biden administration has all but abandoned these children to the cartels and criminals.
While border crossing numbers for all demographic groups have increased sharply under President Biden, one of the most significant increases has been among unaccompanied alien minors. According to Customs and Border Patrol data, 152,057 unaccompanied children crossed the southern border in fiscal year 2022, up slightly from 146,925 in 2021. Through April of this fiscal year, 81,474 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border.
Those figures represent a drastic increase from the final years of the Trump administration. In fiscal year 2020, just 33,239 unaccompanied alien minors crossed the border.
In total, CBP has reported 366,090 unaccompanied minors crossing the border illegally since Biden took office. The true figure is likely far higher given that cartels and child trafficking rings smuggle many children into the country undetected.
The Latin American branch of the Coalition Against Trafficking International estimates that, of those children, a shocking 60 percent have been caught by the cartels and have been exploited for child pornography or used for drug trafficking.
Horrific anecdotes further underscore the sheer scale and brutality of child trafficking operations. In an op-ed published last August, Republican Congresswoman Kat Cammack shared that she had “seen children as young as two months old being smuggled by coyotes across the Rio Grande.”
“On my first trip to McAllen, Texas in 2021,” she continued, “I met a little girl who couldn’t speak because her vocal cords had been severely damaged by gang members who sexually abused her.”
In July 2022, border officials apprehended a teenage girl with a bag of “Plan B” pills tucked away in her shirt pocket. “I knew I’d be raped multiple times” on the journey north, she explained. The bag was already missing several pills.
A graphic video shared by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz last July showed evidence of what he called a “narco slave trade,” along with images of migrant children killed along the border. “Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are responsible for the worst plague of slavery in America since the Civil War,” Cruz says in the 68-second clip.
While Cruz’s claim might sound shocking at first, Biden’s policies since taking office make it difficult to arrive at a different conclusion.
In February 2021, Biden instructed officials not to turn away children who came across the border alone – creating a massive incentive for families to pay smugglers to send their children north. The very next month, arrivals of unaccompanied children more than doubled, from 9,402 in February to 18,870 in March. The number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border has remained above 10,000 in all but one month since.
That has meant big business for traffickers. Human smuggling has exploded from an estimated $500 million industry in 2018 to a $13 billion industry today.
With U.S. immigration policies giving preferential treatment to families over single adults, smugglers often pair up minor children with strangers and send them across the border together. “You don’t have a kid? I’ll provide a kid,” is how one border patrol agent described the mentality of smuggling rings.
Yet despite this obvious tactic that puts children in even more danger, Just the News reported this month that the Biden administration is planning to end familial DNA testing at the U.S.-Mexico border on May 31.
DNA testing was another Trump-era policy designed both to discourage illegal immigration and root out child trafficking operations. A government accountability office report cited by Just the News found that, in 2022, roughly 1 in 10 children tested under the program turned out to be not related to the illegal alien adults whom they were crossing with.
All of these issues are likely to be exacerbated further by the end of Title 42 earlier this month. Border officials have warned that the end of the pandemic-era policy will unleash an even greater flood of migration northward that could overwhelm already strained law enforcement resources.
In a telling omission, the Biden Justice Department made no mention of migrant children in its National Missing Children’s Day proclamation last week. Throughout the crisis, Biden and his top border lieutenants have continued to call their immigration policy “fair, orderly and humane.”
It seems likely that the migrants themselves, and in particular migrant children, would hardly feel the same.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio.