The Obama administration failed to protect thousands of Central American childrenwho have flooded across the U.S. border since 2011, leaving them vulnerable to traffickers and to abuses at the hands of government-approved caretakers, a Senate investigation has found.
“It is intolerable that human trafficking — modern-day slavery — could occur in our own backyard,” Portman said in a written statement. “What makes the Marion cases even more alarming is that a U.S. government agency was responsible for delivering some of the victims into the hands of their abusers.”
Instead of sending him to his uncle, Carlos Enrique Pascual, a landscape worker in Florida, authorities said the shelter released the teenager to traffickers who took him to central Ohio, held him captive in a roach-infested trailer and threatened to kill him if he tried to leave.
“Please, how can I get out of this?” Pascual’s nephew begged him during a stolen moment with a telephone. “I’m hungry, and my heart is bursting with fear.”
Pascual called police and, in December 2014, authorities found his nephew, then 17, and seven other boys living in cramped, dirty trailers about an hour outside of Columbus. Authorities said they were working at Trillium Farms, one of the country’s largest egg producers, debeaking hens and cleaning cages nearly 12 hours a day, six days a week, for as little as $2 a day.