WASHINGTON – Continuing her longstanding bipartisan work to ensure unaccompanied immigrant children are properly accounted for and kept safe as they go through the immigration process, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill sharply questioned Administration officials today after a bipartisan Senate investigation found a lack of progress.
A bipartisan report regarding the investigation detailed the lack of progress from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security in improving programs designed to care for unaccompanied immigrant children to ensure their safety and that they appear at their immigration court proceedings.
“I’ve had some experience in children that have been removed from their families in my years as an assistant prosecutor handling criminal cases, and then as years as the elected prosecutor in Kansas City—I can assure you, if a child was removed from their family and, six months later, it was determined that no one was paying attention to where that child was, literally no one, it would be a huge scandal in my state,” said McCaskill, the top-ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “It would be a scandal in all of our states—and I can’t tell you, this is about the fourth or fifth time I’ve been on this dais, and no one seems to be worried about the fact that you all get to wash your hands of these children.”
Click HERE to watch McCaskill’s questioning during the hearing.
From her time serving as Jackson County prosecutor to leading the Senate’s top oversight committee, McCaskill has long fought against human trafficking, particularly trafficking of children. As the top Democrat on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, McCaskill joined Republican Chairman Rob Portman to launch a wide-ranging bipartisan investigation looking at the federal government’s responsibility to implement safeguards for unaccompanied minors awaiting immigration hearings. As part of the investigation, McCaskill worked with Portman to issue a bipartisan report detailing systematic failures by the Department of Health and Human Services to put adequate measures in place that would protect these vulnerable children from abuse. When the Department of Health and Human Services failed to provide legal documentation that she requested as part of the investigation, she blasted the agency for its failure to cooperate.
McCaskill also teamed up with Portman to launch another bipartisan investigation into the role of the website Backpage in facilitating sex trafficking, which culminated in a report entitled “Backpage.com’s Knowing Facilitation of Online Sex Trafficking,” and found that Backpage knowingly facilitated criminal sex trafficking of vulnerable women and young girls and covered up evidence of these crimes in order to increase its own profits. The investigation resulted in bipartisan legislation to ensure that websites that knowingly facilitate sex trafficking can be held liable so that victims can get justice and the Senate’s 96-0 passage of a resolution authorizing a lawsuit against the company—the first such action in 20 years—after the company refused to turn over documents responsive to the Senators’ requests.