How Our Broken Immigration System Commodifies Migrant Children

How Our Broken Immigration System Commodifies Migrant Children
At sunset near McAllen, Texas, illegal immigrants who have crossed the Rio Grande surrender to U.S. Border Patrol near an area known as Rincon; from there they will be transported to a processing center, in a file photo. (Mani Albrecht/U.S. Customs and Border Protection)
Carol M. Swain


America doesn't need the proposed lame-duck legislation from Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.) that would extend Title 42 and grant amnesty to a super-sized new population of several million illegal aliens, in addition to those already enrolled in former President Barack Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Reforms shouldn't take place until the new Congress holds oversight hearings about the lack of immigration enforcement by the Obama and Biden administrations, resulting in modern-day slavery: the commodification of unaccompanied minors trafficked for labor and sex work by their nonfamily sponsors.

The claims of supporting dreamers hide an ugly truth, trapping countless young migrants in a nightmarish enslavement where they become mere products. They undertake the dangerous journey to the United States for promises of the American Dream—only to be victimized and abandoned. Trapped in the meatpacking, agricultural, hospitality, and sex industries, these unaccompanied minors are a bonanza for human traffickers and a moral dilemma for conscientious citizens and humanitarians who abhor this sacrificial system. It's modern-day slavery.

We have known for decades this was taking place. Government responds by allocating millions of dollars ostensibly to support victims and human trafficking. Yet, this modern slavery continues—and grows. When unaccompanied minors cross the border enticed by the promises of asylum and amnesty, their first stop is temporary housing in overcrowded facilities where they're given aluminum foil-like blankets to cover themselves. Afterward, the children are shoved along quickly through a network that includes sponsors and foster homes. Health and Human Services (HHS) is tasked with placing “the product” with a sponsor. Contrary to what we have been told about the uniting of children with their families, the “product” is often placed with an unrelated foreign national.

Last month, James O’Keefe, founder of Project Veritas, dropped a troubling and explosive video interviewing the victims of this modern-day slave trade and a whistleblower, Tara Lee Rodas, who “volunteered to assist [HHS] with the processing of unaccompanied migrant children and was deployed to the Emergency Intake Site in Pomona, California.” Rodas, who works for the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, described an allegedly flawed government process of rapidly moving the unaccompanied minors through without checks and balances.

Rodas revealed that sponsors typically aren’t legal citizens, or even permanent residents of the United States. She shared that these illegal sponsors threaten their “products” with deportation to ensure their servitude.

“The sponsor can hold up an ‘Order of Deportation’ to a [migrant] child and say, ‘This is your Order of Deportation. If you do not do what I say, when I say, I’m going to call ICE on you myself,’” Rodas stated. “We [American citizens] are paying to put children in the hands of criminals.”

In August 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigated reports of unaccompanied minors released to labor traffickers who allegedly placed them to work in an Alabama poultry plant. When investigators searched for the children, they were gone, possibly moved to other work locations.

According to Hilary Axam, director of the DOJ’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit, “Some of these situations appear to involve dozens of unaccompanied minors all being released to the same sponsor and then exploited for labor in poultry processing or similar industries without access to education.”

The reality of America’s broken immigration system and the failures of the Biden administration’s policies create an urgent need for the new Republican-led Congress to perform due diligence before any immigration reforms are adopted.

We can't listen to Democratic leadership on this issue because Democrats have proven themselves unreliable allies in the past. Republicans must recall Democrats gutting the 1986 Immigration Reform Act, leaving those of us old enough to remember a bitter aftertaste when our immigration system soured. History dictates that amnesty creates more amnesties. What should be the greatest priority right now is avoiding rushed legislation and ending this modern-day slave trade causing the exploitation and commodification of vulnerable children lured here on false promises.

Our current immigration system benefits human traffickers: modern-day slaveholders exploiting vulnerable children. In this hell on Earth, what chance do those children have of the American Dream?

Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Dr. Carol Swain, an award-winning political scientist and former tenured professor at Princeton and Vanderbilt Universities, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow for Constitutional Studies with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and the co-author of "Black Eye for America: How Critical Race Theory is Burning Down the House."