The Biden administration sure does love to just throw money at the problem when it comes to any hopes of mitigating the crisis at the border. The latest report, from Jonathan Swan and Stef W. Kight at Axios is that "Government pays for some sponsors to pick up migrant kids."
The policy shift underscores the urgency the Biden administration feels to quickly release kids who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border alone and remain in HHS custody.— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) April 22, 2021
The reality isn't so simple as what the administration is desperate to convey, however.
We’ve known that the Biden Administration is rolling out the welcome mat for illegal immigrants.— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Jim_Jordan) April 22, 2021
But we now know that American taxpayers are footing the bill for their sponsors too! https://t.co/mz3ExPwu0S
Swan and Kight reported that while the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) told Axios that paying for minors' travel is a "normal part of the unaccompanied children program's operation," paying for their sponsors is something else entirely. The move was authorized on March 22, which could hardly go more directly against HHS policy, under "Escorting Children to a Sponsor" of "Children Entering the United States Unaccompanied: Section 2." Particularly relevant portions of that policy, with added emphasis, include:
The sponsor is responsible for the unaccompanied alien child’s transportation costs and, if the care provider is escorting the child, for the care provider’s transportation or airfare. If an airline escort is used, the sponsor is responsible for paying the airline’s unaccompanied alien minor service fee.
Under no circumstances will [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] pay for the sponsor’s airfare. Sponsors are not required to use a travel agent proposed or used by a care provider if they are able to find lower airfare using another agent or airline, provided escort conditions are met.
How many unaccompanied minors and their sponsors has this applied to? We don't know. "Officials would not provide numbers" to Axios. Unfortunately, though, this is a pattern from an administration which has promised transparency on the issue but has failed to deliver.
Swan and Kight reference Mark Greenberg, a former HHS official under the Obama administration, who actually couches it as a way to save taxpayers money.
Apparently, this is how the administration has responded to claims that they are "not doing enough, fast enough, to lower the population of minors in its custody," as Swan and Kight put it. They also point out that "Despite efforts by [ACF] ... the total number of children and teens in the agency's network of shelters continues to rise..."
Maybe that's because the administration isn't properly handling the crisis at the border, and hasn't from the start. How can the administration think it has a chance when, at best, it's sent mixed signals as to whether or not parents should send their children or families should come over. Even the leaders of Mexico an Guatemala blame Biden for the confusion he's created.
Townhall has extensively covered the plight unaccompanied minors face on such a perilous journey, including Julio, who has reported from at the border. Toddlers have been tossed over the border by coyotes, minors have been found wandering to fend for themselves, children have drowned, and girls have been gang raped, as Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) detailed in a column for Townhall.
If the administration wanted to be humane to taxpayers and unaccompanied minors alike, it would stop incentivizing this perilous journey. Instead, the administration has now also incentivized sponsors of unaccompanied minors.