Grand Jury Finds Biden Policies Facilitate Abuse of Children
FAIR Take | May 2023
A preliminary report issued by a Florida grand jury on March 29, 2023 exposed how the Biden administration is knowingly aiding and abetting the trafficking and abuse of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) into Florida and elsewhere in the United States. The report, officially called Third Presentment of the Twenty-First Statewide Grand Jury Regarding Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), explains how these trafficked children are subjected to violence, extortion, forced labor, sexual assault or prostitution. The Third Presentment includes the initial findings from the first five months that the grand jury has been investigating the UAC issue.
This scathing report was the result of a grand jury investigation convened by the Florida Supreme Court for one year at the request of Governor Ron DeSantis in June 2022. Among the grand jury’s many findings of abuse and sexual assault was an instance where a minor was “pimped out” by an individual claiming to be the minor’s aunt but was previously unknown to the minor prior to arriving in the United States. In another, a teenage female UAC was placed with a male sponsor with multiple unknown males living in the same residence. Other instances included female UACs placed in homes with all men and with no private bedrooms. The grand jury even found that eight UACs were placed with a human trafficking ring.
As the report details, the problem begins with judicial settlement entered into by the Clinton Administration (called the Flores Settlement) that was partially codified as part of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) in 2008 at the behest of California Senator Feinstein and then-Senator Joe Biden. The provision of law sets forth procedures the government must follow to release the child almost immediately and place him/her in the care of “sponsors.”
So, under the TVPRA, what happens to an unaccompanied alien child (UAC) encountered by border agents? A border patrol agent initially screens the UAC. If the UAC is from either Canada or Mexico, the UAC is repatriated to those countries unless the UAC is a victim of trafficking or has an asylum claim. However, if the UAC is not from either Canada or Mexico, then the border patrol agent must turn the UAC over to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), the agency responsible for the UACs, within 72 hours. The ORR then has 20 days which it can detain the UACs under the Flores agreement.
It did not take long for the cartels and would-be migrants to figure out that sending children alone to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. would be a surefire way of getting the children released and reunited with relatives in the U.S. After 2008, the U.S. witnessed a massive increase in UACs encountered at the border. This 2021 table from the Congressional Research Service shows the skyrocketing numbers.
The problem has become so bad that in Fiscal Year 2022, 127,447 UACs were released into the U.S. Now, ORR has an average of 11,000 UACs in its care monthly.
Despite these numbers and the obvious humanitarian crisis taking place, the Biden Administration does not want to amend the law, stop the flow of children, or even protect them once they get here. Instead, the grand jury’s report specifically found that the administration’s efforts and resources have been directed toward maximizing the number of UACs they process. In particular, it detailed how the government was rapidly releasing UACs and that the children would often go to unvetted or poorly vetted sponsors.
Disturbingly, not only did the grand jury find that the government was waiving background checks, it found that ORR often didn’t even realize where the UACs were going. In fact, the report found ORR lost track of at least 20,000 children. It additionally revealed that since January 2021, approximately 165,000 UACs were given to someone who was not their parent or legal guardian, 90,000 were turned over to someone who claimed to be a family member, and 30,000 were handed over to sponsors who they did not previously know.
The Biden administration’s policies have miserably failed to protect UACs from abuse and sexual assault. In fact, the administration has also suspended the use of DNA testing so that the UACs can be quickly released.
While the Twenty-First Florida Grand Jury continues its investigation, it made two recommendations in its initial report. The first recommendation is that sponsors with physical but not legal custody must, within 30 days, notify the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) to begin formal proceedings to determine legal custody. Failure to notify DCF qualifies as at least a third-degree felony and should be referred by DCF to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The second recommendation is that an organization or individual licensed as a Child Placement Agency that places a child with purported biological parents must document the relationship with a birth certificate which names the parent or through DNA testing.