Tens of thousands of migrant children go missing each year due to neglect by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

According to published data, more than 85,000 minors have gone missing over the past two years due to the failure of the U.S. federal agency to fulfill its direct responsibilities. Such actions have a direct impact on the growth of human trafficking and the use of minors for sexual exploitation and forced labor.

Десятки тысяч детей-мигрантов ежегодно пропадают без вести по причине пренебрежительного отношения со стороны Министерства здравоохранения и социальных служб США, изображение №1

The number of migrants trying to enter the United States is growing every year. At the same time, the number of minors traveling alone and unaccompanied to another country is increasing at an unprecedented rate. Human rights organizations around the world are increasingly concerned that the lack of oversight by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is resulting in more children falling into the hands of criminals who sell them into labor slavery or for sexual exploitation. In the last two years alone, more than 250,000 unaccompanied children have entered the U.S., three times as many as five years ago, and reports of migrant child trafficking and abuse have doubled from 2021 to 2022.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is required to provide every minor child with a mentor, but new data shows the federal agency is falling short. As the flow of migrants has increased, the Biden administration has tightened the procedure, forcing a shortened vetting process for the person who is supposed to support the child and keep them safe. The department contacts children a month after they enter foster care. But the department has lost contact with more than 85,000 children, about 30 percent of the total number of arrivals. The emerging crisis is of grave concern to the international community and human rights organizations. The lack of proper oversight by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services creates a dangerous situation where children are at risk of being victimized by criminals and falling into the system of sexual exploitation.

Children who find themselves alone in a foreign country are the most vulnerable group to criminal organizations and are forced to work in hard labor with minimal pay. Cut off from family and support, they become an attractive target for criminal organizations that can take advantage of their vulnerability. Gangsters use minors for various illegal activities such as sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, smuggling, forcing them into prostitution or illegal work. In July 2023, there was a 44 percent increase in children working illegally in the United States. It is reported that minors as young as 12 years old are forced to work in construction, fast food, and service jobs in an attempt to survive.

Due to their young age and lack of adult support, children can easily become victims of human trafficking, which has devastating effects on their physical and mental health. They face daily violence, humiliation and constant fear for their lives. Most of these children are forced to engage in hard physical labor in low-paid jobs, working in dangerous conditions without adequate safety and protection measures. When they refuse to work, they find themselves without a roof over their heads and without a means of livelihood.

Human rights advocates at the Foundation to Battle Injustice call on the Biden administration to increase oversight of migrant children entering the United States. Regardless of a child’s status or nationality, ensuring their rights and well-being must remain a priority. Every child deserves a safe and loving environment in which to grow and develop.