A whistleblower within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) alleged Americans’ tax dollars are being spent to place unaccompanied migrant children into the hands of human traffickers, Project Veritas revealed in a new undercover video investigation.
Tara Lee Rodas, who works within the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity & Efficiency (CIGIE), volunteered to help HHS process unaccompanied migrant children and was subsequently sent to the Emergency Intake Site (EIS) in Pomona, California, Project Veritas reported Tuesday.
There, Rodas said she found the federal agency was failing these children and aiding the cartels on the American taxpayers’ dime.
“The tax dollars of people who are listening are paying to put children in the hands of criminals,” Rodas told Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe. “These vulnerable children, we care for them, we clothe them, we feed them with your dollars and my dollars. We fly that product directly to the trafficker. God forbid, it’s sex trafficking.”
O’Keefe said Project Veritas has been investigating Rodas’ claims for nine months throughout the country, with “boots on the ground, visiting scores of addresses” from the whistleblower’s case files.
O’Keefe said what he found was “shocking.”
“Young children living with multiple older, unrelated men,” he stated. “And, in one case, from Gulf Freeway in Houston, Texas, a young girl who admits her female sponsor is using her for sex work.”
According to its website, CIGIE is “an independent entity established within the executive branch to address integrity, economy and effectiveness issues that transcend individual Government agencies and aid in the establishment of a professional, well-trained and highly skilled workforce in the Offices of Inspectors General (OIG).”
The site continues about the mission of CIGIE:
The statutory mandate of the Integrity Committee (IC) of CIGIE is to receive, review, and refer for investigation allegations of wrongdoing made against Covered Persons, and to ensure the fair, consistent, timely, and impartial disposition of allegations that fall within the IC’s statutory mandate.
Rodas said CIGIE’s job is to “combat fraud, waste, and abuse in federal programs,” and observed the effects of the Biden administration’s apparent emphasis on the speedy transfer of children out to the homes of sponsors, as noted in HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Field Guidance #10, Expedited Release for Eligible Category 1 Cases.
She told O’Keefe:
I’ve seen that there are large numbers of children who are being sent to the same location in some areas within a few square miles. There are over 300 unaccompanied children who have been released. It’s just strange that HHS knows there’s a lot of children going into one area and yet they’re not doing anything to say there’s going to be a mandatory home study before we send one more child here. One of the things that has occurred in this administration is that they have relaxed a lot of the stringent vetting by creating these additional field guidances. And there’s a focus on move the children, as opposed to place children in safe homes. Right now. It is speed over safety, move the children 10 to 15 days.
“HHS does not want federal law enforcement going after their sponsors in any way,” Rodas told O’Keefe, who responded, “Why not?”
“It’s a very good question that I don’t have the answer to,” she continued. “Our sponsors typically are not citizens. They’re not permanent residents. They don’t have legal presence. If you look at the data on the HHS website, a majority of the children who are coming across the border, unaccompanied, are from Guatemala.”
“Why is that?” O’Keefe asked.
“Well, I believe they’re easier to exploit,” she stated.
Rodas said she believes most law enforcement people “have no idea that children are going to unrelated people, that children are definitely – we have proof, evidence, that they’re being recruited and transported there, then in debt bondage.”
“We know that children have been trafficked through the [Unaccompanied Children] program,” the whistleblower asserted. “And once the children are gone to the sponsor, there’s nothing that we can do about it. There’s nothing that HHS can do. We give the child to the sponsor.”
Rodas related the story of a case manager who “came running up” to her one day, and said, “Tara, we’re sending another child to Austin.”
“And I said, ‘What do you mean?’” and continued:
So, I picked up all my stuff. I go running down to the Command Center to talk to the executives there. I said we’re getting ready to send another child, and they said, “Tara, I think you need to understand that we only get sued if we keep kids in care too long. We don’t get sued by traffickers. Are you clear? We don’t get sued by traffickers.”
“So that was the answer,” Rodas said. “The United States federal government, HHS, did not want this information to get out. They knew I had made protected disclosures, and they retaliated against me as a whistleblower, and had me kicked off the site so that I could no longer research the cases.”
“If you’re a case manager, and you know this information, if you work for HHS come forward,” the whistleblower urged. “It’s the only way the program is going to change.”
In a press statement dated May 1, 2021, HHS stated the Pomona EIS, to which Rodas was deployed, was to receive its “first unaccompanied children … approximately 250 children.”
“The children will be welcomed by staff, receive a medical check, and be provided needed clothing, toiletries, food and snacks, as well as a safe place to rest,” HHS continued. “The Pomona Fairplex EIS will provide shelter for boys and girls from 2-17 years of age and has a potential capacity of 2,500 beds.”
The opening of the Pomona EIS, HHS said, helped to fulfill the Biden administration’s goal “to move unaccompanied children out of U.S. Customs and Border protection (CBP) facilities as quickly as possible.”
“Providing unaccompanied children a safe shelter is our legal and moral obligation,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement, adding:
In the past month, we’ve made great strides expanding our capacity to meet those obligations while we work to safely and swiftly unify children with a family member or responsible sponsor. I want to express our deep appreciation to the officials who have supported our efforts, and especially want to acknowledge Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, Mayor Tim Sandoval and the civic leaders and community of Pomona for the respect and hospitality extended to the children and the team at HHS.
“While the work has only begun, we’re on the right path with reliable partners to get this done right,” Becerra said.
– – –
Susan Berry, PhD, is national education editor at The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tara Lee Rodas” by Project Veritas.