Owens Grills Secretary Becerra On Reports HHS Lost Track Of 85,000+ Children

WASHINGTON —Congressman Burgess Owens (UT-04) pressed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on reports that the department has lost track of more than 85,000 migrant children after releasing them to sponsors in the United States.

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Rep. Owens:There’s reports of 85,000 children being lost. So far, the best you can give us is that they’re not lost, it’s just that people are not answering the phone. We’re now hearing about children being used and reused, going back and forth to the border because of the cartel. We’re talking about slavery, rape, abuse of children, stealing of children. You say that if this is your child, you’d do everything you could to stop it. What about other people’s children? How can you remain part of an administration that allows this evil to happen? … 85,000 lives, innocent children, is not acceptable in this country. No longerand the fact that you’re in a position in the administration, you should have some sway to make sure those that are part of this process, are making changes.”

Sec. Becerra: “If 85,000 children were lostyou, me, everyone in this room would have taken action. That number is inaccurate, that’s not a statistic that’s real.”

Rep. Owens: “So what is the real number? How many have been lost?” 

Sec. Becerra: That’s the thing, they’re not lost.” 

Rep. Owens: They’re just not answering the phone. In other words, the sponsor does not answer the phone.”

Sec. Becerra: Well we there’s noCongress did not give anyone in the federal government the authority—”

Rep. Owens: “Okay let me just say this: When you leave it, you give it to a sponsor, they do not answer the phone—you don’t know where those kids are, they are lost. If you don’t know where they are, you don’t have the address, you can’t go and pick them up, you can’t look at doing a welfare [check], they are lost.”


  • In February 2023 the New York Times reported that more than 250,000 children have entered the United States alone in 2021 and 2022, and that HHS has lost contact with at least 85,000 of them.
  • The report detailed stories of migrant children being moved through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (an HHS department) and into the custody of dangerous sponsors without sufficient investigation into who these sponsors are.
  • In April 2023 a whistleblower testified in front of Congress, detailing a vast child trafficking network that takes advantage of the lack of oversight from the Office of Refugee Resettlement to move children into the hands of sponsors who act as middlemen in this network.
  • Both reports placed blame on HHS for insufficient oversight and failing to check up with children after they have been placed with a sponsor.

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