Working to Address the Child Crisis at the Border

Recently, I questioned Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson as part of a Judiciary Committee hearing to conduct oversight of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). My colleagues and I covered a host of issues, but focused upon the DHS’s responsibilities at the border, and the Obama Administration’s failure to enforce the law.

I specifically asked the Secretary about how the DHS plans to address the surging number of unaccompanied children crossing our border. This problem is very serious, and growing – especially in South Texas, where a border patrol agent reported more than 1,000 such children were caught earlier last month. In this fiscal year, roughly 60,000 minors have attempted to cross by themselves – almost 10 times as many as 3 years ago. These children are put into overcrowded detention centers, and often allowed to stay and transported to family in the U.S. at a cost of more than $1 billion to taxpayers.

As I explained to Secretary Johnson, in addition to the structural problems this shows in our immigration system and the strain it puts on our border security operation, I am worried for these kids. They’re coming over here alone because the Obama Administration has made it a practice to let unaccompanied minors stay and take them back to their relatives in the States, but many are getting captured and sold into slavery along the way. The Mexican drug cartels are increasingly turning to human trafficking as money has dried up in the drug trade, and these kids are at serious risk of being captured and enslaved by them.

The United States government must never allow policies that incentivize human trafficking to continue, and I am eager to work with my colleagues and the Secretary toward reform. While the Secretary didn’t offer much in the way of solutions besides an ad campaign, I hope that he and the President will seriously address the policy failures that are contributing to this and join me in taking a hard look at this problem and how we can remedy it. If you have any thoughts or suggestions please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office.

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you may have given me a question to ask Secretary Johnson. To read his responses to the most asked questions click here.

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