A 12-year-old Honduran boy seeking asylum in the United States has been "lost" in the system, illustrating what immigration experts say is a widespread problem of the government failing to keep track of the large number of vulnerable children flooding across the border.
The case of missing child "W" has been brought to light in a lawsuit filed in federal district court in Columbia, South Carolina, that names Gov. Nikki Haley, the S.C. Department of Social Services, Lutheran Services and World Relief among the defendants. World Relief is a division of the National Association of Evangelicals and, like the Lutherans and Catholics, is heavily involved in the resettlement of refugees and asylum seekers, getting paid handsomely to perform one of the government's most secretive operations under the guise of humanitarianism, the suit claims.
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The suit was filed by Brian Bilbro, a husband, father and taxpayer who lives near Columbia. It seeks to shut down refugee resettlement in South Carolina on the grounds that it amounts to executive overreach by the state and federal governments, which are secretly placing refugees and asylum seekers into local communities – often without vetting those responsible for their care. It also claims South Carolina's freedom of information laws are being violated by nonprofits doing the government's work.
But the bombshell revelation is the tragic story of Walter Alexander, aka Ordonez Campos, also known as "missing child W."
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The federal government has been "rubber stamping" the asylum applications of tens of thousands of child migrants like Walter since 2014, says Lauren Martel, the attorney representing Bilbro in the case. Their asylum applications are rushed through the system without taking time to ensure the children's safety.
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In April 2015 a then-10-year-old Walter was placed in a home in Bluffton, South Carolina. He was, according to paperwork obtained by WND, reunited with Nidia Campos-Torrez, who claimed to be his mother.
He's 12 now, but nobody knows where he, or his alleged mother, have gone.
"There's a 12-year-old boy out there somewhere who is unaccounted for and we only know about him because a lawyer in the Family Court of Beaufort County didn't redact his name [on court documents]," Martel told WND. "So now he could be part of the sex trade industry for all we know. Nobody can tell us anything."
The family court skipped the normal protocol of appointing a guardian ad litem to meet the child and visit the home of his sponsor before releasing Walter into her custody, according to Bilbro's suit. Nor did the South Carolina Department of Social Services perform a chain of custody study showing how the boy got from Charlotte to South Carolina.
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The boy was released into the custody of Campos-Torrez by the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on March 25, 2015, according to an ORR "verification and release form," a copy of which is attached as an exhibit to Bilbro's lawsuit and shared with WND.
Campos Torrez claimed in a letter to the court that she had run away from a violent husband in Honduras and later paid to have her son join her in America, saying he was fleeing not only the potential of violence from his father but also gang violence in Honduras. Her story was never verified, the suit claims.
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The case came to Martel's attention by pure chance. She happens to practice in the same family court of Beaufort County and noticed that the boy's name had not been redacted on the release forms. She decided to take a witness and find out if little Walter was actually present at the house in which he was assigned with his alleged mother at 70 Pine Oak Street, Bluffton. She knocked on the door and was greeted by a man and woman who said they were from Mexico and had no knowledge of the boy or his mother. This was in early June.
Sheriff's office, FBI have no answers
She called the local Sheriff's office to report suspicious activity, and it routed her to the FBI. No one could answer her questions about the boy's whereabouts.
"It's like the smoking gun," she told WND. "These immigration programs and Obama's executive amnesty isn't about charity at all. It's about money, and it's about the corruption of our system of government, the absence of the rule of law."
Sadly, the case of missing child "W" is not unique, says an expert in federal immigration policy.
'Asking as few questions as possible'
The problem has become endemic under the Obama administration’s slack procedures for dealing with unaccompanied minors from Central America, said Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington. And local communities often end up getting stuck with the problem – and the cost.
"From the beginning, instead of putting the welfare of the kids first, the priority of the Obama administration has been to turn over the kids to anyone who would claim them, asking as few questions as possible, and deliberately oblivious as to whether the child was being placed in a safe environment," Vaughan told WND.
For the sake of political expediency, she said the government wants a rapid turnover, and is willing to sacrifice all checks and safeguards to ensure the safety of the kids.
"The contractors who were awarded public funds to handle the kids admit that they have lost track of most of them, and a U.S. Senate investigation has found that some were turned straight over to indentured labor camps or to abusive adults," said Vaughan, who in February testified before a House subcommittee on the problem of child migrants being swept up into human trafficking networks.
"The Obama administration wants the public to believe that we are saving these kids, but in reality their policies are enriching human smugglers and traffickers and resettlement contractors, while putting too many of the kids in more danger," she said.
The Bilbro suit also seeks to bring transparency to the nonprofits doing the government's work.
The total blackout of information on resettled child migrants, which government bureaucrats refer to as "confidentiality," has backfired on children such as Walter, said Martel. When no information is made public, the system lacks accountability and becomes dangerous.
"We've raised that issue because they have tried to unilaterally absolve themselves from the law, and they're doing it so massively with a lot of money being run through these nonprofits," Martel said. "It's definitely run like a criminal enterprise, with massive secrecy, especially when there's a young child at stake. If he exists, tell us where he is."
To have an illegal, unaccompanied minor unaccounted for is inexcusable, Martel said. "The woman who says she's the child's mother and is sponsoring him is not being investigated either as far as we know. She may or may not be legal herself.
"This isn't the only case of this happening in America, it's just a case where the picture is clear – we have a child who was placed in a home at taxpayers' expense and now nobody can tell us where he is. That is outrageous."
The boy originally crossed the border into Texas and was first sent to Charlotte, North Carolina, then to Bluffton, according to court documents.
"They move these children around in the system in order to get them benefits but without any real accountability," Martel told WND. "Who knows who really got these benefits intended for little Walter."
Under Haley's direction, South Carolina, ironically, signed on to join the Brownsville, Texas, case that successfully challenged Obama's executive amnesty decrees, shielding more than 5 million illegals from deportation. Yet, Haley is on the other side of the issue when it comes to rubber-stamping refugees from the Middle East and UACs seeking asylum from Central America, said Martel.
"Haley was part of the Texas case trying to do the right thing against executive overreach. But here in our own state, we see her taking the exact opposite approach and supporting executive overreach," Martel said.
And that leaves state and local taxpayers are on the hook for the rising social welfare costs, Vaughan said.
At least 10,000 kids unaccounted for
The Senate investigation found that 13 percent of the arriving unaccompanied minors were turned over to someone other than a family member.
"They do not routinely do background checks or determine that the person claiming them is capable, responsible, law-abiding or even financially able," Vaughan said. "There are more than 10,000 kids who are here now without family members, and most of them are unaccounted for. Some are turning up in the criminal justice system after having been allowed to join fellow gang members who preceded them in settling illegally."
She said the family court system often contributes to this problem by failing to apply appropriate standards of expectations for these children and their caregivers (if they have one) in the state systems.
In assuming that these kids need asylum, the judges and social workers are suspending their judgement and allowing potentially abusing adults to operate on the basis of their claims and assurances, without verification or substantiation.
"We would never let American kids slip through the system this way – it’s downright Dickensian, and should not be tolerated just to give political cover to the Obama administration’s failed policies," Vaughan told WND.
Bilbro's suit names as defendants the South Carolina Department of Social Services, Gov. Haley, the U.S. State Department and volunteer agencies World Relief and Lutheran Services of the Carolinas, the U.S. Department of Justice and S.C. Department of Education. President Obama was also added as a defendant along with Anne Richard, the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Migration and Refugees.
"I don't think at the end of the day it matters whether he's an asylee, a UAC, or a DACA; the reality is there's a missing child," Martel said. "He's in our country now, and we don't know where he is. He could be working in a sweat shop somewhere or caught in the sex industry. That's evil. That's not who we are. We shouldn't sleep until his is found. Everyone has been placed on notice about this now. No one is doing anything, no one is taking any time out of their day to try to find him."
State DSS spokeswoman Karen Wingo told the Greenville News last year that South Carolina's refugee/asylee programs were funded solely by federal money.
"South Carolina tax dollars are being spent right in the court system," she said.
Martel said she was "honored" to be representing Bilbro, a husband, father, and taxpayer who is "unwilling to stand by and watch the harm and damage continuing to unfold in his home state of South Carolina."
Vaughan said the solution to the problem of slack accountability in the child welfare system with regard to foreign children is simple: Turn off the spigot.
"The solution is to nip this illegal migration in the bud by working with Mexico and the sending countries to stop them before they get this far, and to promptly repatriate new illegal arrivals so that the smugglers and traffickers are put out of business," she said.