The decade's most triggering comedy
During a hearing on Wednesday, one Republican lawmaker confronted a Biden administration Cabinet secretary with a jar filled with colorful contents.
It was not full of “candies or snacks,” as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra had guessed. Rather, as Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) explained while holding the jar, what it contained represented a far more “grim” reality.
“These are wristbands that the cartels force people to wear when they cross the border, and if you’re not wearing one and you cross the border, the cartels will take a limb or an appendage,” Cammack said.
Rep. Cammack: Do you see this jar?
Sec. Becerra: It looks like candies or snacks.
Rep. Cammack: These are wristbands the cartels force people to wear when they cross the border. If you're not wearing one when you cross, the cartels will take a limb, like an arm or leg. pic.twitter.com/QSB5dFyAf7
— Rep. Cammack Press Office (@RepKatCammack) July 26, 2023
“This is what these people are forced to wear and it dictates what cartel they belong to, how much they have paid and they are absolutely a part of the horrors of trafficking and smuggling that occurs at our Southwest border,” Cammack added. “And I have to point this out because I want to tell the journey because this has really been laid out in bits and pieces along the way by my colleagues and we’re here to talk about these kids.”
The jar moment went viral on social media, with comments from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and others.
“Astonishing — but not at all a surprise,” Cruz said on the X platform. “Earlier this year during a Senate Judiciary hearing, DHS Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas denied knowing about the cartel wristbands found at the border. This is the latest example of the Biden administration turning a blind eye to the human trafficking crisis taking place at our southern border.”
In his testimony for a House subcommittee hearing on “Stopping the Exploitation of Migrant Children: Oversight of HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement,” Becerra talked about what happens when young people who are transferred to HHS care from the Department of Homeland Security or any other federal entity are then released to a sponsor. Becerra stressed that the sponsors of unaccompanied minors are “thoroughly vetted,” but conceded the children “may find themselves in unsafe situations.”
Challenging the secretary to define what “thoroughly vetted” means, Cammack shared the story of a young migrant girl she encountered who was “terrified” of the man holding her, as seen in a photo the congresswoman showed. That man, Cammack said, later confessed under threat of a DNA test to “renting” the child in a process called “recycling” and turned out to be a convicted sex offender.
Cammack said many migrant children end up having the same phone number written on their arm in sharpie and dozens of them “magically” end up with the same sponsor. HHS releases these children, she added, to sponsors who are in the country illegally.
When given a chance to respond, Becerra pushed back, saying the congresswoman shared “misinformation” and insisted that officials run a “series of tests and assessments of a child when we get them.”
To Cammack, the secretary’s response appeared to be insufficient as she figures such as DNA tests only being conducted in 9% of cases and background checks in 23% of cases. “I think this is disgusting that 85,000 children are missing, and it’s on your watch,” she added as her time to speak expired.