With the migrant crisis at the southern border, the number of cases of child trafficking has skyrocketed, prompting Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn to sponsor legislation that would allow border officers to fingerprint youngsters.
Blackburn and 17 other Republican senators have written a bill that would allow Customs and Border Protection personnel to fingerprint minors younger than 14.
A monthly report detailing the number of apprehensions where the trafficker falsely claimed that the youngster in their possession was a relative is also part of the proposed legislation.
Child “recycling,” in which children are used repeatedly to make unrelated adult migrants appear to be part of a family unit, making it less likely that they will be removed from the country, would also be made illegal by this bill. For years, people have worried about child recycling because of stories that a 51-year-old man “purchased” a 6-month-old child to use as “a loophole” to get him released from prison.
With reports that authorities weren’t able to contact more than 85,000 migrant children and with administration officials reportedly ignoring signs of “explosive” growth in child labor, the crisis has persisted amid a historic migrant crisis at the southern border since 2021. The Department of Homeland Security has stated that exploitation crimes “occur at alarmingly high rates,” both domestically and internationally. DHS’s quadrennial assessment includes taking on a new mission area.
Republicans have linked the problem to the policies of the administration, notably its rolling back of Trump-era policy to prevent the release of migrants into the interior and its lowering of interior enforcement. Representative Blackburn has issued a statement calling the current situation in the United States a “devastating humanitarian disaster, and children are the principal victims.”
Agents at the border would be better able to identify victims of child recycling if they were allowed to take fingerprints from non-citizens younger than 14. She argued that adopting the bill was urgent because “the Biden administration simply carelessly lost track of 85,000 migrant children.”