By: Jennie Taer, Daily Caller News Foundation
Republican Texas Rep. Morgan Luttrell introduced a bill Thursday to require stricter vetting of migrant children sponsors in the U.S., according to a copy of the bill first obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The bill, which is named “The Stop Human Trafficking of Unaccompanied Migrant Children Act of 2023,” is introduced in both the House and Senate by Republicans Rep. Luttrell, Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas. The New York Times reported in February that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) lost contact with 85,000 migrant children a month after releasing them to sponsors in the U.S. interior in the last two years.
“Unaccompanied migrant children are crossing our border, and the Biden Administration’s failed policies have done absolutely nothing to protect them. Instead, these children are released with no follow-up and are being exploited by cartels, resulting in forced labor, sex trafficking, and abuse,” Luttrell said in a statement to the DCNF.
Border Patrol had more than 149,000 encounters with unaccompanied minors at the southern border in fiscal year 2022, compared to the more than 30,000 encounters in fiscal year 2020, according to federal data.
Some migrant children released from federal custody were found to be working dangerous jobs, and in some cases in popular snack factories, the NYT found.
In an effort to prevent the issues, the proposed legislation would force the federal government to vet sponsors and all adults in the household, according to a copy of the bill. It also makes illegal immigrants ineligible to sponsor migrant children unless they’re related or a legal guardian.
Additionally, the bill requires that the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) visit the sponsor’s home before the child is released from custody and that the agency make five unannounced home visits in the first year. It also asks that HHS vet sponsors with children released from its custody since the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Jan. 20, 2021.
“This cannot be swept under the rug. It is crucial that proper and thorough vetting is implemented at HHS so vulnerable children are placed with responsible adults. Everyone is suffering because of President Biden’s border crisis, and it cannot continue,” Luttrell said.