WASHINGTON – One of the nation’s top investigative journalists has discovered an untold number of illegal immigrant children crossing the border are walking straight into a living nightmare of degradation and depravity, thanks to the chaos at the southern border and the U.S. government looking the other way.
Five-time Emmy Award winner and Edward R. Murrow award recipient Sharyl Attkisson revealed to WND, “Most people have no idea that thousands of juvenile illegal immigrants are surging across the border.
“And more importantly, perhaps, that we’re spending a billion tax dollars a year caring for them, only to turn over an undetermined number of them into the hands of criminals who are little more than slave traders, sexual abusers and even convicted killers.”
Children put into the hands of slavers, molesters and murderers? Who could allow such a thing?
The U.S. government.
That is the disturbing revelation the reporter shared with WND, along with a sneak peek into her reporting on the issue, before she explores it in depth on her nationally syndicated Sunday show, “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.”
In just the past six months, more than 28,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the Mexican border and turned themselves into U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Attkisson reports the Department of Health and Human Services, or DHS, actually admitted it has no idea how many children have been placed with convicted felons, while claiming it is trying to ensure those kids are safe.
But she found lawmakers outraged, as members of both parties blamed appalling lapses by the administration.
Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, zeroed in on the apparent heart of the problem when the reporter asked him if he has been satisfied with the answers the government has provided to date.
“Absolutely not,” replied the senator. “If they aren’t going to do background investigations, and we don’t have an indication that they are, they aren’t doing their job.”
Attkisson had heard one whistleblower told the senator’s office that 3,400 out of a sample of 29,000 adults allowed to take immigrant children had criminal histories.
“That’s about one in eight,” she observed. “Aren’t the sponsors supposed to undergo background checks?”
“They’re telling us they don’t have time,” offered Grassley, which he found unacceptable, adding, “Well, it’s the government’s responsibility to be responsible for the safety of these people, and you wouldn’t tolerate it in any other environment, you surely shouldn’t tolerate it even for undocumented workers.”
Acknowledging the system was overwhelmed by the massive influx of young illegal immigrants, Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, told Attkisson that federal officials are often just sending them to guardians who turn out to be convicted felons and abusers.
He also found the administration’s performance deficient, telling the reporter, “Once they come in, I think we have an obligation as a country to make sure that those juveniles don’t go from a very difficult situation into the hands of somebody that can take advantage of them. And I think we need to do a better job at making sure that we ensure the safety of those kids.”
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, spelled it out in stark terms, telling the reporter, “It’s intolerable that human trafficking, really modern-day slavery, could occur in our own backyard in the 21st century, but it does.”
Thousands of minors, with no parent or legal guardian, walk right into Cuellar’s home district in Laredo, Texas. The Democrat accused the administration of covering up the staggering extent of the problem.
Attkisson asked the lawmaker how he became aware of the problem and the cover-up.
“Actually, I [was] provided some photos by one of my friends that works on the border,” he revealed. “And we provided those photos, and that basically broke the story. Homeland Security doesn’t tell local communities what’s happening.”
The seasoned reporter found herself startled when she learned where some of those children were ending up.
She asked Cuellar, “Now they’ve learned some of them have gone into the hands of abusers?”
“Exactly,” was his succinct but powerful reply.
More than 125,000 unaccompanied minors from Central America have been allowed illegally to enter the country since 2011.
Why haven’t they simply been deported, especially if so many face such hellish circumstances once placed with predatory guardians?
The apparent answer is the Obama administration has virtually stopped deporting any illegals, reviving the “catch and release” policy.
That’s what Brandon Judd, head of the national Border Patrol agents union, testified before Congress in February during a hearing called to find out why the surge of illegal border crossing is on a record pace.
In March, Judd published a letter that stated DHS Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas flatly informed him and two other Border Patrol agents during a meeting that the administration had decided not to deport illegal immigrants arriving in the current surge.
An incredible 85 percent of apprehended illegal border-crossers just disappear, according to Chris Cabrera, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 3307 from the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas.
“What they are doing is like a backdoor amnesty or an amnesty through policy,” he told the press earlier this month.
He added, “They can’t get everybody in the right way, so they are just going to release everybody on their own recognizance pending a court date that hasn’t been set, knowing that over 85 percent of the people don’t show up for the court date.”
During his testimony in February, Judd said immigrants without serious criminal records had quickly learned how to avoid even apprehension by merely telling Border Patrol agents they had arrived before 2014, and agents have been ordered not to ask for proof verifying those claims.
The agency that oversees the Border Patrol, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, did not deny Judd’s accusation. It merely said agents have been instructed to prioritize arrests.
The White House had no comment.
The White House is employing another tactic to increase the number of illegal immigrants arriving from Central America by turning them into legal “refugees.”
As WND’s Leo Hohmann detailed in January, a program lets migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador apply for refugee status before they attempt the long, arduous trip to the U.S.-Mexico border.
Obama placed authority for the program under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who pre-screens migrants from three Central American countries and decides which ones qualify as refugees eligible to come to the United States.
Obama authorized the State Department to access up to $70 million from the U.S. Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund “for the purpose of meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs.”
In December 2014, the U.S. began offering refugee status to Central American children who have parents already living legally in the U.S., but only a limited number have been approved.
This effort expands that program by moving applicants, both families and single individuals, into “safe zones” to await processing. In other words, the U.N. will be herding refugees into camps in Central America just as it has been doing in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, then permanently resettling them in the United States.
Cuellar had told Attkisson that the illegal immigrant minors flooding into America were true refugees, fleeing violence.
“You have unaccompanied kids fleeing very dangerous areas, like Honduras and other places, because of the drug violence and the very highest murder rates in the world. And they’re trying to flee that violence.”
Not everyone agrees.
Ann Corcoran, the refugee watchdog who blogs at Refugee Resettlement Watch, told WND in January the Central Americans don’t even meet the current definition of a refugee under international law. Most are economic migrants looking for better employment opportunities.
“They aren’t refugees. Refugees have to prove they were persecuted,” she said.
“Running from crime or economic deprivation does not qualify you as a refugee under the United Nations’ definition. They have been working for years on expanding the definition. Even war is not a reason to become a refugee in the sense that you are permanently resettled in another country. It has to be that you were persecuted because of your religion or your race or your political beliefs.”
Corcoran said she expects a huge surge at the border this summer and fall.
She said the surge was allowed in order to import cheap labor for establishment Republicans and votes for Democrats.
Companies like Swift & Co., a Brazilian-owned meat packer that was raided in 2006 for using illegal immigrant labor, are now being provided with cheap Third World labor by the government’s refugee program. The only difference is that now it’s all legal.
“Swift has been hiring Somali refugees to work in its U.S. plants for years,” Corcoran said.
“And we, the taxpayers, get to subsidize their workers’ lifestyles with welfare because they don’t pay them a living wage.”
“It occurred to me that we’re going to have a huge wave of people coming across the Southern border this year. They’re looking at Europe and how successful it’s been there, and they know this is Obama’s last year in office,” she said. “So look for a huge movement to swarm our borders, by whatever means. This is it. A great migration movement is getting ready to take place.”
Stephen Miller, then-director of communications for Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and now immigration adviser to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, told WND in January it was another unilateral move by Obama to provide cheap labor to big corporations.
“This is a backdoor plan to expand low-wage migration into the United States, increasing financial burdens on Americans and reducing their opportunities for employment,” said Miller.
As for the billion tax dollars a year Attkisson said is being spent caring for the thousands of juvenile illegal immigrants surging across the border, a new study indicated they will receive more in benefits than the average annual Social Security retirement benefit.
The report published this month by the Center for Immigration Studies estimated 75,000 Central American teens will illegally cross into the United States this year.
With Obama budgeting $1.3 billion in benefits to unaccompanied children, that comes out to $17,613 for each child, exceeding the average annual Social Security retirement benefit by $2,841.
The report, titled “Welcoming Unaccompanied Alien Children to the United States,” also found most of youth are 16- and 17-year-old males, and that most do not qualify for refugee status and are not in danger in their home countries.
Despite that, author Nayla Rush wrote, the administration’s Central American Refugee/Parole Program with the United Nations will put the children on the fast track to citizenship.
“Children will be able to qualify for refugee status and then be flown to the United States. As a reminder, refugees receive automatic legal status and are required to apply for a green card within their first year following arrival. They can apply for citizenship five years from the date of entry.”
She said those children, in turn, might then be able to provide a path to citizenship for their parents.
“Children, acquiring legal status followed by naturalization by the time they reach adulthood, could indeed sponsor their parents,” wrote Rush.
Rush maintained so many of the children arrive unaccompanied in the country because their families are already here.