A Florida grand jury accused the Biden administration of “facilitating” the trafficking of child refugees after a five-month investigation conducted at the request of Governor Ron DeSantis.
The panel issued a scathing report, denounced the Biden administration and, in particular, the Homeland Security Department and Department of Health and Human Service’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). It disputed ORR’s claim that child refugees are being cared for and reunited with their families.
“In reality, ORR is facilitating the forced migration, sale, and abuse of foreign children, and some of our fellow Florida residents are (in some cases unwittingly) funding and incentivizing it for primarily economic reasons,” the report stated. “If any resident of Florida exposed U.S.-born children to this process, they would be justifiably arrested for child neglect or worse.”
Through the White House’s policies, the two federal agencies are effectively encouraging unaccompanied children from South and Central America to make the dangerous trip to the U.S. border, the grand jury found. Once at the border, many of the children are abandoned to unvetted adults, the report found.
“This process exposes children to horrifying health conditions, constant criminal threat, labor and sex trafficking, robbery, rape, and other experiences not done justice by mere words,” the report stated, adding that grand jurors were repulsed and horrified by testimony and video documenting the treatment of foreign children.
It was not immediately clear what witnesses testified before the grand jury. The report reveals that the grand jury issued subpoenas and requests for documents and information to Florida non-governmental organizations doing business with ORR but were stymied.
“We received, instead, a response from the organizations that they would be purposely ignoring some of those requests under orders from ORR, with whom they have a contractual relationship,” the report stated.
One NGO official reportedly told the panel their organization would rather operate an unlicensed an illegal child placement facility than risk losing ORR’s funding, the report asserts.
ORR actively discouraged its employees from questioning the process even internally, even firing some, according to the report.
“One was fired for reporting a case of suspected human trafficking (of over 100 UAC shipped off to a single house in Texas) to a government hotline because her ORR superiors refused to investigate the matter,” it said.
The report also slammed HHS, noting that at the beginning of the investigation, accusing the agency of blocking its requests for routine information.
“HHS slow-walked productions and eventually provided the information in unusable or difficult-to-use formats, causing unacceptable and obstructive delays,” the reported states. “HHS also redacted vital tracking numbers from the hard copy documents, meaning that staff were unable to link related SIRs [Significant Incident Reports] together, or to link SIRs to any other ORR response.”
DeSantis called for the grand jury investigation amid reports the ORR was flying in illegal immigrants detained at the border. The panel determined it was occurring on a massive scale, and largely in secret.
“We learned that the very clandestine nature of ORR’s process was what first attracted the attention of some in our state; during a six-month period in 2021, more than 70 [large commercial passenger jets] landed at the international airport in Jacksonville,” the report stated. “These flights arrived in the night time often after midnight, and landed not at the passenger terminal, but instead at an out-of-the-way commercial terminal used normally for shipping freight, away from police facilities and miles from the passenger terminal.”
Once in the Sunshine State, the passengers were whisked away on private buses to unknown locations.
“If an operation were ferrying terrorists or large quantities of narcotics, this is what it would look like,” the report said.