Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., accused the government of assisting cartels' human trafficking efforts by resettling migrant children after touring a holding facility in her home state on Monday.
"What I saw, quite honestly, was sophisticated, organized illegal immigration," McClain said according to the Washington Examiner on Thursday. "I choose those words very, very carefully because the system and the process that I observed was unbelievable."
McClain, who represents a district north of Detroit, visited the Department of Health and Human Services contractor-run facility in Albion, Michigan, where 191 boys between the ages of 5 and 17 were being held after being transported from the border.
Unlike the southern border, McClain said the facility was guarded securely — by 20 law enforcement officers who work in shifts.
And unlike other lawmakers who visited overcrowded Department of Health and Human Services facilities at the border, McClain was impressed with what she saw.
"The facility is remarkable," McClain said of the location that opened April 11. "It's 350 acres of beauty. I mean, it's manicured precisely. There are 17 homes that are in phenomenal condition. There's a beautiful lake there. There's an auditorium, a gymnasium, soccer fields.
"The medical treatment that they're receiving is top-notch. They have 2 doctors from the [National Institutes of Health], there around the clock. They have a 1-to-8 supervision-to-child ratio, which, I mean, I gotta be honest, I didn't, I didn't expect to see. So from that perspective. I think we're doing a really good job of treating these unaccompanied alien minor children with dignity and respect."
The congresswoman's office said the Albion facility is 1 of more than 200 facilities housing 19,789 unaccompanied alien children.
McClain tweeted about her visit.
"Yesterday, I toured Starr Commonwealth in Albion that is housing children who illegally cross the border. Tens of thousands of children are being smuggled and trafficked across our southern border and sent across our country.
"@POTUS must stop this crisis now. #BidenBorderCrisis"
All except 5 of the 191 boys hadn’t been released to sponsors within a week of their arrival — much faster than the one-month average it took HHS to find family members to release children to during the 2014-19 humanitarian crises at the border.
"Some of them can't even speak English. They can't read. They can't write," McClain said. "Understand, the taxpayers are paying them to come from the southern border, up to Michigan to then, in less than a week, to find family members across the country to then pay for them, again, to go live with their family members. ... That's pretty doggone sophisticated if you ask me."
Among the boys at the Albion location, 27 have tested positive for the coronavirus. HHS's Administration for Children and Families said that the facility will test children before they are admitted, and then every 3 days thereafter.
"It is a testament that if we put our minds together and we really want to accomplish something that we can accomplish it," McClain said. "Once we get done taking care of the rest of the world, maybe we can focus on taking care of some of our children, you know, that are in foster care or have some mental illness. Maybe we can start putting America first again and our children first. I mean, look at the amount of tax dollars we're spending. It's unbelievable to me."
Republican lawmakers have criticized the Biden administration for refusing to return children back south of the border immediately, which was being doing after the start of the pandemic to avoid filling detention facilities.
Children from countries other than Mexico are protected from being turned away under trafficking laws.
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