House Republicans Demand Testimony Regarding Exploited Migrant Minors

House Judiciary Committee Republicans are calling on Robin Marcos, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, to appear for questioning about migrant children and teenagers working in dangerous jobs across the United States. The request was made in a letter obtained by Breitbart News following the publication of an exposé by The New York Times, which revealed the “shadow workforce” of migrant children and teenagers processing products for popular companies like Ben & Jerry’s, J. Crew, Cheerio’s, and Ford Motor Company. These young workers may be violating U.S. child labor laws.

The letter was signed by chair Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and two of the committee’s top border security advocates, Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Tom McClintock (R-CA). The Republicans cited an “alarming change” at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Health and Human Services Department (HHS) that has allegedly enabled the exploitation as described in the New York Times report.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, there was a pronounced increase in the number of unaccompanied children encountered crossing the border illegally when Joe Biden assumed office in the White House, along with the overall surge in illegal migration.

Border officials have encountered over 330,000 unaccompanied children illegally crossing the border since January 2021. All of fiscal year 2020 saw less than 34,000 such encounters. In the first four months of fiscal year 2023 alone, they encountered nearly 47,000.

DHS normally transfers minors to HHS after they are first encountered at the border. HHS, in turn, manages the Office of Refugee Resettlement. The Republicans noted in their letter that the agreement between DHS and HHS was modified in 2021 to remove the requirement that HHS provide “biographic and biometric data for all adult members of a sponsor’s household to check the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national and statewide criminal history, child abuse and neglect, and sex offender databases before placement of a UAC” with that sponsor. This change, according to the Republicans, has further enabled the exploitation of illegal migrant minors.

The Republicans also cited reports that HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has been urging his agency to rush unaccompanied children through HHS and into the custody of an adult sponsor, perhaps to manage the department’s capacity amid migrants continuing to flood across the border. In a leaked video, Becerra said, “If Henry Ford had seen this in his plants, he would have never become famous and rich. This is not the way you do an assembly line.”

The Republicans concluded their letter by stating that “the failure of this administration to adequately screen sponsors of UACs and monitor them after the placement has resulted in UACs being exploited and working in extremely dangerous jobs children are legally prohibited from doing.”

Jordan’s letter asks Marcos to contact the committee staff to set up a transcribed interview within the next two weeks.