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Biden’s HHS Secretary Dismisses Claims The Agency Lost Tens Of Thousands Of Migrant Children As ‘Misrepresentation’

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra dismissed a previous report by The New York Times that asserted that his agency lost track of thousands of migrant children as a “misrepresentation” during a NALEO Educational Fund conference Thursday.

The NYT reported in February that HHS “could not reach more than 85,000 migrant children” a month after releasing them to sponsors in the U.S. interior over the course of the last two years. Becerra refuted the premise of the report, saying that it wrongly blamed HHS for the issue.

“They reported that they’re lost. Have they done a follow-up article to say that they’ve figured out where all these 85,000 kids are that they lost? They’re not lost, and we never lost anyone,” Becerra said.


Border Patrol recorded more than 149,000 encounters with illegal migrant children crossing the southern border as unaccompanied minors in fiscal year 2022, a surge from the more than 30,000 encounters in fiscal year 2020, according to federal data.

“What we do is, after we place a child and we lose custody authority over that child, those children we make an effort not because we’re required by law because these are kids and we make an effort to make sure we follow to find out how the placement is going after about a month,” Becerra said. “Those kids have no obligation to respond, the sponsors have no obligation to respond, and so what happens is, you ever try to call your kids and they don’t answer the phone? Well, we track if they answer the phone when we try to reach them. That we didn’t reach doesn’t mean that they’re lost.”

The NYT report highlighted how many of the children released by HHS to sponsors in the country are ending up in the hands of employers exploiting them to work under inhumane conditions in factories for well-known snack companies. The report was based on conversations with more than 100 child migrant workers across 20 states.

“What the reporter said is that we lost those kids because they didn’t respond to the phone call, which is absolutely a misrepresentation and it’s unfortunate because it loses focus on the fact that these kids, to the degree that they are being required or forced to work, they’re being violated, their rights are being violated by these employers, and so reporter sends everybody off to HHS when the culprits here are the folks that are employing these kids in violation of the law,” Becerra said.

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