Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday asserted that recent decisions made by the Biden administration on the U.S-Mexico border are emboldening human traffickers to “ramp up their criminal operations.”
In a letter (pdf) to the White House on Tuesday, the governor called on President Joe Biden’s administration to investigate every unaccompanied minor crossing the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a wider effort to crack down on human trafficking.
He asked that all unaccompanied minors crossing the border be interviewed to determine whether they have been preyed on, exploited, or abused by human traffickers.
“Recent decisions by your administration are emboldening dangerous cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers to ramp up their criminal operations,” the governor asserted. “In many cases, these criminals entice unaccompanied minors into inhumane conditions and expose them to abuse and terror.”
Describing the situation at the border an “escalating humanitarian crisis,” Abbott noted that so far this year, 11,000 minors have been apprehended crossing the border into the state of Texas.
The number of minors crossing the southern border rose by 60 percent from January and February, he said, with 9,400 children apprehended last month alone.
“Those numbers continue to increase in March, with no end in sight,” Abbott wrote.
The Biden administration should “interview every unaccompanied minor coming across the border to determine if any child has been harmed, groomed, or victimized by human traffickers in any way.” Abbott called on the administration to “make clear what they are doing to prosecute human traffickers and address the surge in border crossings.”
Abbott on March 17 expanded his Operation Lone Star to include combating human trafficking efforts at high threat areas along the southern border.
The Texas governor’s letter comes as photos released this week by Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) of an overflow tent facility in Donna, Texas, show extremely crowded conditions, and children sleeping on the floors along with makeshift beds.
Cuellar, whose office first shared the photos with Axios, told the news outlet that one “pod” held more than 400 unaccompanied male minors. The pods are supposed to hold a maximum of 260 people, he said.
“We have a duty to investigate these border crossings so we can protect the victims of human trafficking that have already crossed our borders, crack down on the perpetrators of this heinous crime, and ensure federal policies do not allow—or even incentivize—such behavior,” Abbott wrote in his letter.
“We must send a clear message to these criminals that human trafficking will not be tolerated in America, and that we will use every available resource to stop this abuse of basic human rights.”
The letter includes a list of questions from Abbott to Biden.
Some of the questions include: How are these children coming across the border and who is helping them get here? Were these children abused or harmed in any way on their journeys? How many victims of physical abuse, sexual assault, or trafficking has the administration identified? Are you using effective DNA tests to confirm familial relations? How else are you ensuring that these children are being released to safe, trustworthy adults?
“The thought of any child suffering at the hands of human traffickers is unacceptable and irreconcilable with our values as Americans,” Abbott said. “I implore you and your administration to take swift action to crack down on this heinous crime and to protect more children from trafficking and abuse.”
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.
Abbott last week suggested in a statement that Biden’s border policies are what turned the “humanitarian crisis” along the southern border into a “complete disaster.”
“The Biden Admin. has turned a humanitarian crisis into a complete disaster,” Abbott said on Twitter, singling out a drinking-water problem at a site used to house illegal immigrants in Midland and a “massive” COVID-19 outbreak at a facility in Carrizo Springs.
“They were unprepared for open border policies,” he added.
From The Epoch Times