Human traffickers are making money off America’s current border policies, according to Tim Ballard.
“Traffickers use our southern border to bring slaves into our country for the sex industry because the United States is one of the highest consumers in child sex abuse material in the world,” Ballard, a former U.S. government special agent, told members of Congress.
The lack of border security and poor policies are “feeding the growth of human trafficking,” according to Ballard, whose story was recently featured in the box office hit “Sound of Freedom.”
Ballard drew the connection between the trafficking of children in the U.S. and the border crisis during a House Homeland Security Committee hearing Wednesday morning.
During his opening statement, Ballard referenced the 85,000 unaccompanied migrant children that the Biden administration has released to sponsors in the United States and since lost contact with.
These 85,000 minors “are prime targets for traffickers, for sex or labor,” Ballard told Congress. “Tragically, as a result of this administration’s current policies, [the Department of Homeland Security] and [the Department of Health and Human Services] have unwittingly become a child trafficking delivery service.”
As the hearing progressed, Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mark Green questioned Ballard on the alleged connection between the current administration’s border policies and the trafficking of children.
“Are the catch and release policies of [DHS] Secretary [Alejandro] Mayorkas facilitating the trafficking of people and children?” Green, R-Tenn., asked.
“Absolutely,” Ballard answered.
“So word it another way,” Green pressed, “there are cases of human trafficking and sex trafficking of minors that are occurring that would not be occurring if these policies were not in place?”
“That’s correct,” the former agent said.
Green then asked Ballard if he believes that “Mayorkas knows there are human trafficking cases happening because of his policies?”
“I do believe he knows that,” Ballard said.
DHS did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment by the time of publication.
Since fiscal year 2023 began in October, Customs and Border Protection has encountered 109,905 unaccompanied migrant children on America’s border. There were 152,880 unaccompanied children encounters in fiscal year 2022 and 147,975 in 2021. In 2020, CBP encountered 34,126 unaccompanied migrant children on America’s border.
One of the issues leading to human trafficking is the “absence of physical barriers on our border,” Ballard said. “I have personally seen how ports of entry were responsible for helping rescue a child, catch a sexual predator, and started a chain of events that rescued multiple children from [the traffickers’] abuse,” he said. “On the other hand, I’ve spoken with survivors who were trafficked by cartels taking advantage of the miles of unprotected U.S. border.”
Asked by Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., what Congress should do to help Border Patrol agents, Ballard said the first step Congress must take is to find the 85,000 children that the U.S. government has lost contact with, and “we need to start enforcing the laws that Congress put upon the executive branch, which is to enforce the border. That’s the most compassionate and it’s the only compassionate policy for children … you end it by enforcing the border policies.”
Ballard worked for the CIA before spending 12 years as a special agent and undercover operator for Homeland Security investigations. Ballard left his job as a government employee to found Operation Underground Railroad and rescue children from human trafficking. He now works as a senior adviser to the Spirit Fund, an organization that funds and collaborates with various entities to fight and end human trafficking.
In addition to Ballard, Sandy Snodgrass, founder of Alaska Fentanyl Response; Mayra Hinojosa Cantu, the wife of a Border Patrol agent; and Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, also testified during the hearing.
Wednesday’s hearing continues the House Homeland Security Committee’s five-pronged investigation into the current situation at America’s border and Mayorkas’ failure to prevent illegal aliens from crossing the border.
In June, Green announced an investigation into Mayorkas’ handling of the surge of illegal immigrants at the southern border, saying the probe is part of his committee’s “congressional oversight duties” and pledging to leave “no stone unturned in its efforts to get the facts.”
The panel’s investigation, he said, includes examining:
- Mayorkas’ dereliction of duty.
- How the border crisis facilitates the illegal activities of drug cartels.
- The human cost of the border crisis.
- The financial cost of the crisis.
- Suspected fraud within the Department of Homeland Security.
Now in the third stage of the investigation, Green challenged his colleagues to “deal with the human costs of this terrible crisis. And we must do so now.”
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