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Is the Biden administration separating families at the southern border?

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., claimed that 85,000 migrant children have gone missing

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Migrants navigate around concertina wire along the banks of the Rio Grande after crossing from Mexico into the U.S., on Aug. 1, 2023, in Eagle Pass, Texas. Texas state police officers separated migrant families along the border with Mexico by detaining fathers on trespassing charges and turning over mothers and children to federal officials, the state Department of Public Safety said Aug. 3, 2023.

Eric Gay, Associated Press

A doctor recently alleged that the Biden administration is still separating children from their parents at the southern border.

After the Biden administration stopped familial DNA testing at the border in May, Dr. Paul Wise, a pediatrician who is overseeing the treatment of migrant children for the U.S. Federal Court, made many visits to the border and found that children as young as 8 were separated from their families by the Biden administration, according to CNN.

“Separated children included girls separated from mothers and boys separated from their fathers. None of the interviewed children had visited with their parents since they were separated, including children who had been separated for 4 days,” Wise wrote in a court filing from less than two weeks ago.

He added that the children were unaware of any protocol that would allow them to request a visit with their parents.

A Customs and Border Protection official told NBC News that children are separated from their families in rare instances and it is done for safety reasons. If a facility is overcrowded, a child, based on their age, is put in a pod with children of their age and gender, according to the official.

Meanwhile, Customs and Border Protection released a statement, saying that “health and safety,” as well as “keeping families together at every step of the immigration process,” is a priority.

“CBP appreciates Dr. Wise’s oversight; we will continue to review the report and associated recommendations and will respond as appropriate,” the statement added.

Sen. Blackburn presses Becerra for answers about migrant children

In a recent letter, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra for answers about the handling of migrant children who cross the southern border.

Blackburn sent Becerra a letter in April, following his appearance before the Senate Finance Committee, where she listed out her concerns regarding the exploitation of children at the southern border. She never received a response, and so she drafted another letter.

“I am appalled by reports that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has mishandled unaccompanied minors by placing them with unvetted sponsors, leading to their exploitation and forced labor,” she wrote in the more recent letter, first reported by Fox News.

Blackburn added that she is giving the secretary “another chance to respond directly to my questions because Americans deserve to know about his knowledge of the alleged child exploitation.”

In a statement, she claimed that the health agency’s policies are the reason why 85,000 migrant children have gone missing.

Are migrant children separated from their families at the border?

Blackburn reintroduced legislation in June that would make DNA testing at the border mandatory to prevent fraud and child trafficking.

“What we know is that about 30% of the children that present at the southern border are being trafficked, and there have been DNA tests that Department of Homeland Security would run,” she said on Newsmax.

“It takes about 45 minutes, and it would confirm whether or not a child does belong to the adults that are bringing that child along.”

The Tennessee Republican added: “It is a matter of keeping children out of sex trafficking, human trafficking, labor gangs, or being used as drug mules for some of these gangs.”

Biden and the border crisis

As the National Review noted, President Joe Biden was firmly opposed to separating families prior to becoming president.

“A policy that separates young children from their parents isn’t a ‘deterrent.’ It’s unconscionable,” Biden said in a statement.

He criticized the Trump administration for using “children” as a bargaining chip while dragging its feet to protect the border and the American people.

Since Biden took office in January 2021, there have been nearly 6 million illegal crossings at the southern border, according to House Republicans, who are advocating for the passage of the Secure the Border Act.

The legislation seeks to resume the construction of the wall on the southern border, increase border patrol agents, end the catch-and-release policy and strengthen the asylum process.