AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
As the crisis at the southern border continues unabated, unaccompanied children have tragically found themselves facing a slew of horrors on their weeks-long journey to the United States. Though their stories often go unreported, it is this most vulnerable group that has perhaps suffered the most as a result of the Biden administration’s horrific border policies.
From October 2020 to September 2021, Customs and Border Patrol agents reported more than 147,000 encounters with unaccompanied minors at the U.S.-Mexico border, shattering the previous record of 69,000. Through July of this year, Border Patrol agents have already encountered more than 129,000 unaccompanied minors, meaning that the country will almost certainly see a new record again this year.
These unaccompanied children are often the most vulnerable to the predations of human traffickers and drug smugglers who accompany them on their long journey to the United States. While CBP data reflects those who actually do make it into the country, thousands more die along the way. By some estimates, 60% of minor girls journeying to the United States become victims of rape or child pornography along the way. Cartels often force young boys to ferry drugs and other contraband across the border, and human smuggling of unaccompanied minors has become a prime recruitment source for criminal enterprises.
One harrowing account published by the Daily Beast follows the story of Valeria and Fernanda, 8 and 4, sisters from Guatemala who were dropped off by their mother, Francisca, at the Mexico-Guatemala border last year. After their father’s death, Francisca promised her daughters that all their dreams would come true in the United States. Valeria describes how, throughout the long journey, “I had to take care of my younger sister; I found a baby’s bottle for her because I know what she eats and changed her diapers.” She further recounts sleeping in dark rooms and having little to eat.
After arriving in the United States, the girls stayed with a family acquaintance already living in the country. But after struggling to adjust, Valeria and Fernanda were deported back to Guatemala. When they arrived, however, they learned that their mother had died trying to cross the border just a few weeks before. They now reside with an uncle.
Even for those unaccompanied children who do make it to and remain in the United States, a better life than the one they left behind is far from assured. Without parents or family members, many resort to a life of crime from a young age – particularly boys, who are ideal recruits for gangs. In 2018, Immigration and Customs Enforcement staged a series of raids across New York City, ultimately arresting 475 gang members. Of those, 99 came to America as unaccompanied minors. While some joined willingly, some joined out of pure necessity, while others were blackmailed with threats to their loved ones back home.
While the Biden administration has oscillated between attempting to shirk blame for the crisis and pretending it does not exist, there’s little denying that Biden’s policies and rhetoric are driving the surge in illegal crossings generally and the rise in unaccompanied minor crossings particularly. In the days following Biden’s election, a Mexican human smuggler known as “El Cuate” expressed excitement at what Biden’s victory would do for his business. “We think he will not be as harsh as Trump,” he said. “So we could go back to Obama times where we could get a lot of people across. At least it was not as hard as it is with Trump.”
As the crisis first began to make national headlines last year, it seemed as though Biden and his “border czar” Kamala Harris recognized the scope of the problem and were beginning to reverse course. In June 2021, Harris explicitly told would-be migrants “do not come” to the United States. There were also some reports that Biden was repairing and rebuilding parts of Trump’s border wall.
Soon, however, the new cycle shifted and so too did the attention of the Biden administration, even as the crisis only continued to worsen. Now, Biden appears to be doubling down on his earlier failed policies, moving to end Title 42 and Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program. Border experts predict both of those decisions are likely to be seen in Central America as another sign of lax border policies and further incentivize human and drug smuggling, including the wave of unaccompanied minors.
For someone who sold himself on the campaign trail as a “compassionate” leader, Biden has shown little remorse for the tragedies faced by thousands of families as a result of his destruction of the southern border. Instead, he seems more concerned with appeasing the radical open-borders advocates who have the ear of his administration.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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