During a hearing held this week in the Senate Judiciary Committee, panel member Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) attempted to spread deceptive propaganda about the Biden administration’s response to problems with the safety of children migrating into the U.S. from other countries. He accused the Biden administration of doing nothing to address supposedly tens of thousands of children ostensibly sold into slavery, but quickly after, the actual facts of the situation were made apparent.
“These kids are literally being sold as slaves in the United States of America in the year 2023, and nobody is responsible,” Hawley claimed, dismissively describing what he called the government’s perspective. “They don’t want to come and testify to this committee. You bet they don’t… Well, I tell you. It’s somebody’s fault. It’s not the kids’ fault. Thank God for The New York Times, a phrase I never thought would come out of my mouth.” Hawley subsequently recounted some reporting about a specific minor who’d come from outside the country before working in dangerous conditions. He also shared some specific comments credited to people who’d worked in federal government and alleged pressure to prioritize sending migrant children out of the government’s custody.
“Let the record reflect that this administration has let tens of thousands of children be sold into slavery, and they are doing nothing about it,” Hawley said. That is simply not accurate. For starters, it’s unclear that his numeric total is accurate, and it’s perhaps even more critical in such an urgent situation to get the facts right instead of leaning into political grandstanding. Depressing anecdotes of minors working dangerous jobs combined with the government losing contact with tens of thousands of children and teens apparently after they were placed with sponsors doesn’t mean 85,000 children were “sold into slavery.” Neither is it true that the Biden administration isn’t doing anything in response to the actual problems.
“The federal Department of Labor is grossly underfunded,” witness Terri Gerstein explained to Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), pointing out some actual issues. “The Wage and Hour Division has record low numbers of investigators. OSHA as well is at very low numbers… The Solicitor of Labor’s office doesn’t have enough resources either… If we really want to address this, we need to fund the agencies that are charged with enforcing our laws.”
Watch the full hearing in the video below: