Gov. Abbott letter urges President Biden to prosecute human traffickers, interview minors at border

Gov. Abbott letter urges President Biden to prosecute human traffickers, interview minors at border
Customs and Border Protection officials in February process asylum seekers who had been waiting in Mexico under the Migrant Protection Protocols. The "remain in Mexico" program was one of the first Trump policies reversed by the Biden administration, but GOP critics charged Biden with going too far. (Source: U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

AUSTIN, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - Governor Greg Abbott sent a letter Tuesday to President Joe Biden inquiring about the humanitarian crisis at the southern border. In his letter, the governor urged President Biden and his administration to 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.

Governor Abbott also asked what they are doing to prosecute human traffickers and address the surge in border crossings.

“Recent decisions by your administration are emboldening dangerous cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers to ramp up their criminal operations,” reads the letter. “In many cases, these criminals entice unaccompanied minors into inhumane conditions and expose them to abuse and terror. 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. 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.”

According to the Associated Press, migrant children are sent from border holding cells to other government facilities until they are released to a sponsor. That process was slowed considerably by a Trump administration policy of “enhanced vetting,” in which details were sent to immigration officials and some sponsors wound up getting arrested, prompting some to fear picking up children over worries of being deported. Biden has reversed that policy, so immigration officials hope the process will speed up now.

On March 6, Governor Abbott announced Operation Lone Star to send law enforcement personnel and resources to high threat areas along the border. On March 17, he expanded the Operation to include anti-human trafficking efforts.

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