January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and with this episode of Parsing Immigration Policy, we seek to bring more awareness to the issue as it pertains to immigration. Our guest host this week is Jessica Vaughan, director of policy studies at the Center for Immigration Studies, and she is joined by Richard Mantei, special counsel and statewide prosecutor with the Florida Office of the Attorney General. Mantei recently served as legal advisor to a Florida grand jury that was convened to investigate the effects in Florida of current border policies, including the smuggling of unaccompanied alien children (UACs). In December, he spoke at the second annual Conference to Combat Human Trafficking, co-sponsored by the Center.
The grand jury investigation revealed that the Biden administration’s immigration policies – including catch-and-release at the border, the dismantling of interior enforcement, and especially, policies on handling UACs – have contributed significantly to incidents of smuggling, trafficking, and other crimes occurring in Florida. These crimes are linked to transnational criminal enterprises driven by enormous profits.
In addition, certain entities in Florida are contributing to this illicit activity, wittingly or unwittingly, including NGOs that are receiving large sums in government funds. Some of these NGOs have actively promoted and facilitated migration, enticing migrants to sign up with smugglers to come to the United States illegally -- yet they fail to adequately communicate the inherent dangers associated with undertaking this journey.
As Mantei explains, the grand jury additionally determined that the policies of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is responsible for placement of UACs, have actually enabled the exploitation and abuse of these children. ORR’s priority is to release the children as quickly as possible to a sponsor in this country. Mantei remarked, “It’s about as difficult to adopt a pet as it is to get an unaccompanied child from ORR.”
The sponsors are sometimes the parents, but increasingly are unrelated, and rarely subjected to routine background checks, home studies, or post-release monitoring. Mantei relates several cases of abuse and exploitation of UACs that occurred in Florida and other states, including incidents of forced labor, sexual abuse, and other disturbing events.
Vaughan emphasizes that states can take steps to counteract bad immigration policies. The grand jury reports offer valuable recommendations to other states that want to address the problems and costs created by the Biden policies. Notably, one of these suggestions is to mandate that sponsors of unrelated UACs be required to undergo family court proceedings to maintain custody of a child, ensuring that UACs receive the same protections as American kids would.
Jessica Vaughan is the Director of Policy Studies at the Center for Immigration Studies.
Richard Mantei is a special counsel and statewide prosecutor with the Florida Office of the Attorney General.
The Third Presentment of the 21st Florida Statewide Grand Jury (on unaccompanied alien children)
The Fifth Presentment of the 21st Florida Statewide Grand Jury (on federal policies, NGO involvement, and cartel enrichment)
Register for the 3rd Annual Conference to Combat Human Trafficking: Research and Technology, July 22-24, 2024
Voices in the opening montage:
- Sen. Barack Obama at a 2005 press conference.
- Sen. John McCain in a 2010 election ad.
- President Lyndon Johnson, upon signing the 1965 Immigration Act.
- Booker T. Washington, reading in 1908 from his 1895 Atlanta Exposition speech.
- Laraine Newman as a "Conehead" on SNL in 1977.
- Hillary Clinton in a 2003 radio interview.
- Cesar Chavez in a 1974 interview.
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaking to reporters in 2019.
- Prof. George Borjas in a 2016 C-SPAN appearance.
- Sen. Jeff Sessions in 2008 comments on the Senate floor.
- Charlton Heston in "Planet of the Apes".