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In U.S., hundreds of migrant kids sent to live in “red flag” situations

  • Published on
    June 2, 2023
  • News Source Image
  • Category:
    Child Slavery, Forced Labor
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In February 2023, the New York Times broke the story of how the U.S. government is failing migrant children who are being forced to work, sometimes in hazardous environments.

Now a new audit conducted by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) reveals that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released 344 unaccompanied migrant children to live with non-family sponsors hosting three or more unaccompanied kids.

“The process is failing”

Children under 18 who arrive in the U.S. alone, after processing by the HHS, are released to sponsors who may or may not be a family member. Since 2012, more than 600,000 unaccompanied minor children were released, with more than a third under the Biden administration alone.

Advocates are alarmed by the high figures, especially the 344 released to families hosting multiple unaccompanied children who are not family members. President of Kids in Need of Defense, Wendy Young, told NBC that the risk involved in such a situation is that children may be treated as a second-class citizen and feel pressure to work.

“We are seeing too many concerning examples of where that process is failing,” she told NBC. “The most extreme is that there is evidence they have been releasing them to exploitative labor situations.”

NBC reports,

Monica Meier, who runs the social work program for the Immigrant Legal Center in Nebraska, said her team has served more than 1,300 unaccompanied migrant children who have come to Nebraska since 2021. She says most are placed with family members so that a nonfamily sponsor housing three or more kids would be a red flag.

Meier said the unaccompanied children want to work and are vulnerable to labor trafficking. “They don’t know that if you are 12 that you should not be working overnight at a meatpacking plant with dangerous chemicals, and so that allows for a situation where they are going to do what they can to make money and people will exploit them.”

Expediency rather than oversight

One reason why migrant children may be ending up in exploitative situations is that in 2021 new guidance was issued prioritizing the expedited placement of children, decreasing the chances that sponsoring families were thoroughly examined.

ORR, however, believes that it is doing a good job, stating that it “works hard” and calling on employers and companies to “do their part” to combat child labor.

Stand up for migrant workers

The Labor Department does not keep track of the number of migrant child workers. This is despite the fact that unaccompanied minors arriving from countries like Guatemala have reached “record” numbers since a recent policy was introduced to exempt minors who entered the country illegally from being deported – and many of these children are vulnerable to labor trafficking.

Will you help us encourage greater protection for all migrant workers so children don’t have to pay the price for the wilful or otherwise breakdown in oversight by the authorities?

Sign the petition calling for safe migration now!

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Diana
Diana
11 months ago

The US Congress is aware of 85.000 children have been sold as a slave labor. 85.000 children just disappeared!!!!!
Who sold them- who bought them- who got rich of this transaction?!!!!
85.000 innocent children’s life !!!!
Who is responsible, who is accountable? Nobody!!!!
Are we human, or greed and hunger for money made us pure evil????
Does anyone cares that those children have a parents and family who they love and miss, that those children are hungry, sick, scared , hopeless…

Bruce Russell
Bruce Russell
11 months ago

Or released to presumed family members. There is unprecedented sex trafficking of children across the southern border. It’s shameful and stop. Immigration must be organized and fair.

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