FAIR Exposes the Biden Administration’s Shameful Record of Losing Unaccompanied Children
FAIR has challenged the Biden administration’s new regulations that appear to accelerate the dangerous release of unaccompanied minors into the country, a process that was initiated in law by then-Senator Biden early this century and now substantially broadened in this administration. Legislation pertaining to important issues tends to grab headlines. However, what often goes unnoticed is the policy making undertaken by nameless bureaucrats and political appointees who make laws through executive action. Laws are also created by activist judges – through settlements and court orders – binding an agency to their desires. This lawmaking is so obvious in the recent regulation published by the Biden administration that impacts unaccompanied alien children (UAC) who are encountered in the country or along the border and cannot be returned to their home country. FAIR weighed in and urged the bureaucracy to reconsider it.
In October 2023, the Biden administration published a proposed rule change related to processing, housing, and caring for unaccompanied alien children who come across the border without a parent or legal guardian. In early December, after a thorough analysis of the proposed rule, FAIR submitted a comment to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) strongly urging that it be substantially revised. FAIR argued that the regulation implements ill-advised policies that would seriously jeopardize the safety of unaccompanied alien children by aiming to process and release as many as possible, as quickly as possible.
FAIR’s comments noted that, “The Biden border crisis has led to a dramatic spike in the number of UACs arriving at our southern border since January 2021. During each month of the Trump administration, an average of 3,966 UACs were apprehended by Border Patrol between ports of entry. By contrast, under President Biden, the number of UACs encountered at the border has skyrocketed to more than four times the total of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. From FY21-FY23, nearly 440,000 UACs were encountered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).” Alarmingly, a New York Times investigation last March found that the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and HHS had lost track of roughly 85,000 unaccompanied alien children post-release. It is highly likely that many of these children were trafficked for cheap labor, sex, and other exploitative reasons. The proposed rule change would do nothing to rectify these problems, FAIR argued.
FAIR especially took issue with policies that release UACs to sponsors who are not their parents. The proposed rule does nothing to prevent UACs from being released to strangers and potential criminals, traffickers, and abusers. FAIR said the biggest error in this rule is the refusal by agencies charged with the children’s welfare to collect immigration information on sponsors, including for law enforcement purposes. FAIR also recommended the use of rapid DNA testing, not only for determining a person’s age (to stop adults from posing as minors) but also to verify familial relationships and help prevent human trafficking.
In addition to monitoring rule changes to ensure that UACs are not abused after they arrive in the United States, FAIR has long advocated for changes to the federal statutes and legal settlements that triggered the surge of UACs. These laws and legal settlements have had the perverse effect of endangering, rather than protecting, children, and have encouraged parents in other countries to put the safety and lives of their children in the hands of the criminal cartels that smuggle them into the United States. This is not the immigration policy of a nation that seeks one which it can be proud of and the rest of the world will respect.