Great moments in government: HHS handed children to human traffickers

posted at 2:01 pm on January 29, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Rarely has “We’re from the government and we’re here to help” been less amusing or more outraging. In the wake of the massive rush of minors across the southern border, the Department of Health and Human Services placed many of them in homes in order to outsource their care. Thanks to a lack of vetting, though, a dozen or more ended up in modern slavery, handed over to known human traffickers. The New York Times’ Emmarie Huetteman reports on a Senate investigation that ripped HHS for its incompetence:

The Department of Health and Human Services placed more than a dozen immigrant children in the custody of human traffickers after it failed to conduct background checks of caregivers, according to a Senate report released on Thursday.

Examining how the federal agency processes minors who arrive at the border without a guardian, lawmakers said they found that it had not followed basic practices of child welfare agencies, like making home visits.

The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations opened its inquiry after law enforcement officials uncovered a human trafficking ring in Marion, Ohio, last year. At least six children were lured to the United States from Guatemala with the promise of a better life, then were made to work on egg farms. The children, as young as 14, had been in federal custody before being entrusted to the traffickers.

And guess what? HHS doesn’t track its placements, and so it has no idea how many other children might have fallen into the hands of traffickers. The Senate found evidence of suspected cases numbering in the dozens:

In addition to the Marion cases, the investigation found evidence that 13 other children had been trafficked after officials handed them over to adults who were supposed to care for them during their immigration proceedings. An additional 15 cases exhibited some signs of trafficking.

The report also said that it was unclear how many of the approximately 90,000 children the agency had placed in the past two years fell prey to traffickers, including sex traffickers, because it does not keep track of such cases.

The Associated Press first reported on the failure at HHS and the boon for human traffickers they provided. Garance Burke noted that rule changes to reduce oversight within HHS’ program led to the grotesque outcome:

First, the government stopped fingerprinting most adults seeking to claim the children. In April 2014, the agency stopped requiring original copies of birth certificates to prove most sponsors’ identities. The next month, it decided not to complete forms that request sponsors’ personal and identifying information before sending many of the children to sponsors’ homes. Then, it eliminated FBI criminal history checks for many sponsors.

Since the rule changes, the AP has identified more than two dozen children who were placed with sponsors who subjected them to sexual abuse, labor trafficking, or severe abuse and neglect.

“This is clearly the tip of the iceberg,” said Jacqueline Bhabha, research director at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University. “We would never release domestic children to private settings with as little scrutiny.”

Advocates say it is hard to gauge the total number of children exposed to dangerous conditions among the more than 89,000 placed with sponsors since October 2013 because many of the migrants designated for follow-up were nowhere to be found when social workers tried to reach them.

HHS officials claimed that they didn’t have the funds to perform these tasks, but the Senate found that the agency didn’t use the funds they had already been allocated:

HHS claimed that it lacked the funds and authorities that a more rigorous screening process would have required. However, the investigation also found that HHS did not spend all of the money allocated to it for handling the crisis.

In other words, it’s ineptitude resulting from a lack of accountability. It’s this kind of incompetence that has plagued immigration control, visa management, and border security for decades, and why voters demand an overhaul of those functions before discussing what to do with those who have already crossed the border. Even a mass deportation at this point wouldn’t solve the problem (assuming one is remotely realistic), because the same people would flood back across the border again. It’s gotten so bad that HHS stopped checking on children it placed with total strangers, and to this day apparently has no information on how to track them.

This is more than unamusing. It’s disgusting, revolting, and shameful. And once again, it shows why no one trusts the federal government to handle responsibilities explicitly assigned to them, let alone the ones over which they arrogate jurisdiction at the expense of the states and the people.


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Comments

By human trafficers you mean the Catholic church correct?

Mr. Arrogant on January 29, 2016 at 2:03 PM

“Feel the Bern!”

platypus on January 29, 2016 at 2:05 PM

Thank obama and Hillary, always.

Schadenfreude on January 29, 2016 at 2:06 PM

Great moments in government: HHS handed children to human traffickers

But Donald Trump is the crazy one…

Deafdog on January 29, 2016 at 2:12 PM

And no one will be prosecuted, fired, or other wise disturbed in the bureaucracy over this disgusting basic failure.

gwelf on January 29, 2016 at 2:12 PM

Sylvia Mathews Burwell must resign.

playblu on January 29, 2016 at 2:15 PM

“All your child are belong to us.”

Rix on January 29, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Trust big brother./

Gross.

CWforFreedom on January 29, 2016 at 2:16 PM

…the MSM will be covering this 24/7…for the next few months!

JugEarsButtHurt on January 29, 2016 at 2:17 PM

That is indeed disgusting and revolting. I’m supposed to think these beaurocrates can control “climate change” lol with a EPA that’s equally incompetent…

sorrowen on January 29, 2016 at 2:21 PM

It’s as if they posted an ad on Craig’s List.

“Free children. Come and get them.”

NeoKong on January 29, 2016 at 2:22 PM

well, how else is an illegal Honduran supposed to enter without a coyote?

V-rod on January 29, 2016 at 2:22 PM

I blame George Bush.

Douger on January 29, 2016 at 2:25 PM

You usually only find this sort of corruption/incompetence in third world countries.

antipc on January 29, 2016 at 2:26 PM

Even a mass deportation at this point wouldn’t solve the problem (assuming one is remotely realistic), because the same people would flood back across the border again.

wrong. not if you have Border patrol agents, ICE agents etc told to do their job to the fullest extent, whereas now they are told to “stand down”. also, if you have entry exit visa controls, mandatory e-verify, and pulling all fed money away from sanctuary cities, etc

also, a real WALL will mean that the BP, ICE etc have a chance to focus on fewer problem areas.

Senator Philip Bluster on January 29, 2016 at 2:26 PM

By human trafficers you mean the Catholic church correct?

Mr. Arrogant on January 29, 2016 at 2:03 PM

You’re not only arrogant, you’re also stupid.

pc253 on January 29, 2016 at 2:27 PM

I seem to remember special emphasis from this administration to focus on this very problem. Was it a SOTU speech? Can’t remember. Seems like any time the Fed says they are going to do something they end up doing the exact opposite.

stick on January 29, 2016 at 2:29 PM

But … but … government is wonderful and solves all problems!

-psychotic lib

darwin on January 29, 2016 at 2:30 PM

In other words, it’s ineptitude resulting from a lack of accountability

Ineptitude is the generous option. I’d be checking the bank accounts of the bureaucrats involved.

rbj on January 29, 2016 at 2:32 PM

We’re from the Government and we’re not accountable to anyone.

ghostwalker1 on January 29, 2016 at 2:45 PM

We couldn’t send these children back where they came from because that wouldn’t be compassionate. This is so much more compassionate.

Bitter Clinger on January 29, 2016 at 2:50 PM

Thanks Obama!
–NAMBLA

cornbred on January 29, 2016 at 2:58 PM

You usually only find this sort of corruption/incompetence in third world countries.

antipc on January 29, 2016 at 2:26 PM

That’s the goal, and our government is working hard to achieve it.

DFCtomm on January 29, 2016 at 2:59 PM

Fedzilla: Doing the jobs Americans don’t want to do. Like handing children over to child sex slave traders.

MMK on January 29, 2016 at 3:01 PM

This can all be solved by vastly increasing the size of HHS, by hundreds of thousands of foot soldiers, so that their reach extends to every street corner across the land.

Of course those soldiers will need several thousand pages of added regulations. Best to use the word “shall” a lot.

Lolo on January 29, 2016 at 3:17 PM

I have places for them – Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, et al.

vnvet on January 29, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Hey you wanted to play with stats, I just want to know what you consider an acceptable amount of child casualties in return for you to get to uh, compensate.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 6:19 PM

So how many dozens of enslaved children are an acceptable number for you to be allowed to feel powerful?

GrumpyOldFart on January 29, 2016 at 3:24 PM

“By human trafficers you mean the Catholic church correct?”

Mr. Arrogant on January 29, 2016 at 2:03 PM

I don’t know but surely you cannot be this stupid and flippant. Our government is allowing children to be taken as slaves and you come up with this remark….

jimwesty on January 29, 2016 at 3:37 PM

Hey you wanted to play with stats, I just want to know what you consider an acceptable amount of child casualties in return for you to get to uh, compensate.

Tlaloc on January 28, 2016 at 6:19 PM

So how many dozens of enslaved children are an acceptable number for you to be allowed to feel powerful?

GrumpyOldFart on January 29, 2016 at 3:24 PM

He also never answered the question about how he thinks I am “compensating”.

The Schaef on January 29, 2016 at 3:51 PM

Salon is endorsing this and covering for HHS.

Goodie on January 29, 2016 at 3:52 PM

Ineptitude is the generous option. I’d be checking the bank accounts of the bureaucrats involved.

rbj on January 29, 2016 at 2:32 PM

That is the most plausible explanation for an agency that is fully funded.

Turtle317 on January 29, 2016 at 3:54 PM

Is this kind of nonsense the reason Tim Ballard left the FBI (Human Trafficking Division), to start his own, PRIVATE rescue operation?

listens2glenn on January 29, 2016 at 3:56 PM

Our great federal gubmint can’t even track a child but can fully vet a terrorist in the ME before they arrive here? Yeah, right. And Jeb says putting these innocent children into slave trafficking and sexual slavery is an act of love. That’s what HHS was doing.. making sure the act of love was being carried out. These fed. incompetent bastards who suck at the teat of fed. employment should be…..

they lie on January 29, 2016 at 4:18 PM

It’s disgusting, revolting, and shameful. And once again, it shows why no one trusts the federal government to handle responsibilities explicitly assigned to them, let alone the ones over which they arrogate jurisdiction at the expense of the states and the people.

Boy howdy.

What an awful and deeply disturbing story.

Magnolia on January 29, 2016 at 5:33 PM

The weapons grade asshat with a third world name has turned the US into a third world country..mission accomplished….

HatfieldMcCoy on January 29, 2016 at 5:42 PM

no one trusts the federal government to handle responsibilities explicitly assigned to them

Which would those be, Ed? The ones in the Constitution (like protecting our borders)? Or the ones the bureaucracy has arrogated to themselves (like welfare for children)?

GWB on January 29, 2016 at 5:58 PM

Way to go democrat child f**king pieces of crap.

bbinfl on January 29, 2016 at 10:02 PM

Our great federal gubmint can’t even track a child but can fully vet a terrorist in the ME before they arrive here? Yeah, right. And Jeb says putting these innocent children into slave trafficking and sexual slavery is an act of love. That’s what HHS was doing.. making sure the act of love was being carried out. These fed. incompetent bastards who suck at the teat of fed. employment should be…..

they lie on January 29, 2016 at 4:18 PM

As Ed says:

It’s disgusting, revolting, and shameful. And once again, it shows why no one trusts the federal government to handle responsibilities explicitly assigned to them, let alone the ones over which they arrogate jurisdiction at the expense of the states and the people.

And people wonder why Trump is winning …

AesopFan on January 29, 2016 at 11:48 PM

By human trafficers you mean the Catholic church correct?

Mr. Arrogant on January 29, 2016 at 2:03 PM

No. Gay men.

SondraK on January 30, 2016 at 12:34 AM

While it is fine and right to blame HHS, Obama, and the federal government for this tragedy, what about those Central American parents who willingly put their 5 year olds on trains, alone, bound for the US border? Weren’t the kids supposed to be place markers for the parents to follow in order to be registered to vote this November?
Stupid is as stupid does, but that’s the kind of people Dems are counting on to keep them in power.

leftamark on January 30, 2016 at 8:11 AM

Well, color me unsurprised. Once you start breaking up the law, so you can ignore the laws you don’t like, people pretty quickly start using that to ignore the laws they don’t like either.

Voyager on January 31, 2016 at 12:07 PM