Legislation takes aim at trafficking, child 'recycling'
More recent reports show that over the last two years the Department of Health and Human Services has lost track of over 85,000 children released to sponsors.
(The Center Square) -
One child was brought across the border eight times, ICE says, one of 600 “recycled.”
What happened to more than 85,000 children released to sponsors is unknown, the Department of Health and Human Services having lost track.
Hard to explain occurrences at the U.S. border are why U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., was willing to join Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and other colleagues co-sponsoring legislation to combat child trafficking and exploitation. The bill was drafted on Nov. 7. They are two of 18 pushing the PRINTS Act.
Formally known as Preventing the Recycling of Immigrants is Necessary for Trafficking Suspension Act, the law would change Department of Homeland Security regulations and federal law that prohibit Border Patrol agents from fingerprinting children under the age of 14.
“Some of them had indicated they’ve made the trip as many as eight times, with separate, unrelated adults each time,” Derek Benner, with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, testified before Congress about the recycling.
More recent reports show that over the last two years the Department of Health and Human Services has lost track of over 85,000 children released to sponsors. News reports and humanitarian groups have shown many end up abused, forced to provide cheap labor, or exploited by sex traffickers.
Research from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime found one in three victims of human trafficking are children, mainly girls, who feed a $99 billion sexual exploitation industry.
“There is a serious humanitarian crisis at our southern border as cartels, coyotes, and other bad actors are exploiting innocent children to cross our borders,” Tillis said in a statement released this week. “This legislation is a commonsense, humane reform to help prevent innocent children from being trafficked, exploited, and abused.”
In addition to granting U.S. Customs and Border Protection the authority to fingerprint, the PRINTS Act would require the Department of Homeland Security to publicly report on a monthly basis arrests of child traffickers who falsely claimed an accompanying child as a relative.
Other provisions would require the Department of Homeland Security to produce an annual report to Congress with a tally of minors fingerprinted, and revoke the Attorney General’s authority to waive fingerprinting requirements at the border.
There’s also criminal penalties included in the PRINTS Act.
“Any person 18 years of age or older who knowingly uses, for the purpose of gaining entry into the United States, a minor to whom the individual is not a relative or guardian, shall be fined … imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both,” the bill reads.
“Under President Biden’s open border policies, we are witnessing a devastating humanitarian crisis, and children are the primary victims,” Blackburn said in a statement on Tuesday of last week. “Abusing and using a child again and again is one of the most heinous acts imaginable, and yet it happens every day along the southern border. Given that the Biden administration just carelessly lost track of 85,000 migrant children, passing this legislation could not be more critical.”