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Ranking Member Cassidy, Grassley, Johnson Lead Roundtable on Biden’s Failure to Prevent Exploitation of Migrant Children

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Ron Johnson (R-WI) hosted a roundtable entitled “The Exploitation Crisis: How the U.S. Government is Failing to Protect Migrant Children from Trafficking and Abuse.” The roundtable examined the failures of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)’s Unaccompanied Children (UC) program, which has allowed thousands of vulnerable migrant kids to be lost or handed over to potential criminals. U.S. Senators Katie Britt (R-AL), John Cornyn (R-TX), Joni Ernst (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) also participated in the roundtable. 

During the roundtable, Cassidy discussed his over year-long investigation into the Biden administration’s failures to protect unaccompanied children from forced labor and human trafficking. Specifically, he blasted the Biden administration for refusing to cooperate with his investigation by failing to respond to Committee oversight altogether or providing vague responses copied and pasted from press releases. Additionally, the administration has even tried to block private entities, like ORR contractor The Providencia Group (TPG), from responding to Cassidy’s inquiries.  

“This blatant lack of transparency with the American people is reprehensible,” said Dr. Cassidy. “Frankly, it is hard to see this as anything other than an effort to cover up and shield the Biden administration from scrutiny for its mistreatment and mishandling of unaccompanied children.” 

“The exploitation of children should not be partisan. This is not a Republican or Democratic issue. When vulnerable children are harmed or die at the expense of bad policies, everyone should be outraged. Everyone should be seeking to do things better,” continued Dr. Cassidy.  

“President Biden has the power to prevent this by securing our border and reforming ORR to protect children from harm,” continued Dr. Cassidy. “Unfortunately, Biden is choosing to manage the border crisis as a messaging issue for his campaign rather than addressing the humanitarian catastrophe that has resulted from his policies. If the exploitation of children will not force the President into action, I'm not sure what will.” 

The panelists of today’s roundtable included: 

  • Ms. Shevaun Harris, Secretary, Florida Department of Children and Families 
  • Dr. Jarrod Sadulski, PhD, Criminologist 
  • Ms. Deborah White, HHS Whistleblower 
  • Ms. Tara Lee Rodas, HHS Whistleblower      

Click here to watch Cassidy’s opening statement and here to watch Cassidy’s full questioning.  

Click here to watch full roundtable.  


As Biden’s border crisis continues, over 500,000 unaccompanied children have entered the United States illegally since 2021. Under the Biden administration, ORR has dramatically weakened its oversight of unaccompanied children, putting them at risk of exploitation. In a 2022 report from HHS’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), ORR staff admitted that the loosened vetting requirements “have weakened ORR’s ability to vet sponsors and protect children from risks such as trafficking and exploitation.” This comes as ORR recently released its final rule codifying these failed policies into law. 

In a separate report released earlier this year, the HHS OIG discovered numerous instances of ORR officials failing to comply with the agency’s own sponsor vetting requirements. For example, it found that ORR failed to conduct required background checks on sponsors in 16 percent of cases, did not include updated FBI fingerprint or state child abuse and neglect registry checks in 19 percent of cases, and did not conduct timely safety and well-being follow up calls in 22 percent of cases. As a result, many of these children released by ORR are coerced into dangerous and illegal work by adult sponsors. 


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