Whistleblowers Detail How 85,000 ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Went Missing After Biden Admin Dropped Them Off With ‘Sponsors’

"This is the biggest failure of government that I have ever witnessed ... I plead with you to give these exploited children a fighting chance."
TORNILLO, TX - JUNE 24: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stands at the Tornillo-Guadalupe port of entry gate on June 24, 2018 in Tornillo, Texas. She is part of a group protesting the separation of children from their parents after they were caught entering the U.S. under the administration's zero tolerance policy.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Department of Human Services has lost at least 85,000 children who crossed the border illegally as “unaccompanied minors” after placing them with “sponsors” who may be trafficking the children into prostitution or forced labor, according to multiple government whistleblowers who laid out the process to a Senate panel Tuesday.

Whistleblowers assigned to process minors near the border said that children were being placed with people who clearly were not their relatives and when there was evidence of abuse and trafficking.

One whistleblower, assigned to process minors near the border, said that after a group alerted supervisors to the fact that children were being placed with people who clearly were not their relatives and that there was evidence of sadistic abuse, the Biden administration’s DHS Office of Refugee Resettlement took her off the job and retaliated against her, instead of acting on the facts they had uncovered.

The Biden administration apparently shoveled children out to the homes of poorly-vetted volunteers as fast as it could to avoid holding them in secure facilities — Joe Biden had painted those as his rival Donald Trump putting “kids in cages,” and wanted to avoid those optics at all costs, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said.

But Biden’s alternative, as detailed by government employees tasked with personally interacting with those children, was far less humane — 500,000 children were flown or bussed to the homes of people who were sometimes strangers. The Biden administration loosened rules on background checks. DHS’s oversight amounted to a single phone call to the children 30 days later. By that time, many of the children could not be reached — they were simply missing.

The panel was perhaps the most devastating in the history of the border crisis—so much so that the Democrats who control the Senate apparently refused to cooperate, leading Sens. Grassley, Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), and John Cornyn (R-Texas) to hold it unofficially.

Tara Lee Rodas has had a 20-year career in the federal government, and volunteered to go to the border when the Biden administration put out an all-hands-on-deck call for employees from any agency because the border was so overwhelmed. Rodas speaks Spanish and her husband is from El Salvador, so she signed up to help kids.

She worked at the Pomona Fairplex Emergency Intake Site, which processed 8,300 minors, as Deputy to the Director of the Federal Case Management Team. But Rodas’ career is in training government investigators, and when she got there, all she saw were red flags.

One 16-year-old Guatemalan girl named Carmen was sent by the Biden administration to live with someone who claimed to be her brother. But pictures on social media showed him touching her sexually; “it was clear her sponsor was not her brother,” she said. Soon, Carmen was advertised on the sponsor’s social media with her shirt unbuttoned, looking drugged up. Her “sponsor” also posted child pornography to social media.

Carmen “was for sale,” Rodas said. “What keeps me up at night is wondering if Carmen is safe.“

HHS whistleblowers / Daily Wire

Other children were turned over to live with known gang members, she said — a far cry from the careful vetting involved in the typical adoption process.

In September 2021, she sent an “urgent do-not-release advisory” warning to the agency and Cherokee Federal not to release a particular child who was slated to be sent to a known gang member, but it “knowingly” did so anyway.

“When I reported the MS-13 case and provided evidence that other MS-13 and 18th Street gang members were sponsoring children, ORR retaliated against me,” Rodas said. Days after flagging the gang-affiliated sponsors, she — not the gang members — was placed under investigation and physically escorted off the job, she said.

The desperation to move kids meant that after initially denying sponsors as unsuitable, they later wound up sending them kids anyway.

Deborah White, another HHS whistleblower, said that the agency was ill-equipped to investigate red flags about things that could harm children — and that they deliberately kept their heads in the sand.

“Children were not going to their parents. Children were being trafficked with billions of taxpayer dollars by a contractor failing to vet sponsors and process children safely, with government officials complicit in it,” she said, adding that it “will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

“We never saw sponsors face-to-face and fake documents were rampant. When we questioned documents, ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] leadership said, ‘You’re not a fake ID expert, and your job is not to investigate the sponsor. Your job is to reunify the child with the sponsor,’” she added. She said ORR provided its staff with “no training” to identify human trafficking or fraud, and when she tried to provide it, she was blocked.

“Contacting the Guatemalan consulate in regard to fake documents resulted in a reprimand … When I checked on a child’s welfare at another facility I was told, ‘Do not do that again. Once these children leave here … they’re gone and they are no longer your responsibility.’”

“Cherokee Federal,” a contractor, was staffed with unqualified and “frankly dangerous people who had access to vulnerable children,” she said. This “is the biggest failure of government that I have ever witnessed … I plead with you to give these exploited children a fighting chance. This [is] taxpayer-funded slavery and child trafficking.”

She reported the first case of abuse in June 2021, but nothing was done, she said. Some were sent to addresses that were abandoned homes, or where 12 children were supposedly being sponsored.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra has told Congress that no children have gone missing from HHS custody. But whistleblowers said that answer was based on pedantry: When HHS releases a child to a transportation company, which, in turn, takes them to a sponsor, they are no longer considered to be in HHS’ custody. The children went missing from their sponsors’ homes soon after.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) / Daily Wire

The Biden administration has painted the program to the public as reuniting children with their parents. But “field guidance” that governs how the program actually operates shows that that is not the case. The government is hiring “unification specialists”—rather than “reunification”—because the children often do not know the sponsor.

A “proof of identity document” is required of sponsors, but because HHS knows that many of the sponsors are illegal immigrants, almost anything is accepted, and the documents are sometimes simply grainy images sent by text, the whistleblowers said.

“Certain categories of sponsors must receive a fingerprint-based FBI national criminal background check, while other categories of sponsor may be exempt,” the “field guidance” says.

It calls those “Who are Unrelated, Have No Preexisting Relationship” to the children “Category 3 Sponsors.”

In December 2023, 38 senators implored ORR not to loosen rules on sponsors further, writing that “ORR does not even consider a sponsor’s criminal record, current illegal drug use, history of abuse or neglect, or other child welfare concerns ‘necessarily disqualifying to potential sponsorship.’…  In effect, ORR accepts a sponsor’s representations almost entirely on face value.”

“Biden’s open-border policies facilitate the multi-billion dollar business of some of the most evil people on the planet,” Sen. Johnson said, adding that one man bought a baby for $84. “The American people must know the truth about what is happening to the victims of this inhumane open-border policy.”

He said five senators brought information about human trafficking to DHS, and “it didn’t even respond,” even after the New York Times acknowledged the 85,000 missing children. He said DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and HHS Secretary Becerra refused to appear. He pleaded with them to listen “before another child is raped or murdered or decapitated.”

Sen. Cassidy said the Biden administration has blocked “even private contractors from cooperating with our investigation,” and HHS has answered questions only with copied-and-pasted dismissals. “We must protect vulnerable children from harm,” he said.


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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Whistleblowers Detail How 85,000 ‘Unaccompanied Minors’ Went Missing After Biden Admin Dropped Them Off With ‘Sponsors’