Stand up for facts and support PolitiFact.
Now is your chance to go on the record as supporting trusted, factual information by joining PolitiFact’s Truth Squad. Contributions or gifts to PolitiFact, which is part of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Poynter Institute, are tax deductible.
I would like to contribute
One conspiratorial news website recycled a years-old Senate report in an effort to link former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to negligence by the Department of Health and Human Services between 2013 and 2015 that led to the abuse of migrant children.
The Your News Wire story cited 2016 articles from The New York Times and New York magazine, as well as a Jan. 28, 2016, Senate report based on an inquiry into the role of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement in protecting unaccompanied migrant children from human trafficking and other abuses.
Facebook flagged this story as part of its efforts to combat false news and misinformation on Facebook's News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
The story said: "Hillary Clinton’s State Department gifted an ‘unknown number’ of children to human traffickers after refusing to run the most basic checks on these so-called ‘caregivers,’ according to a bombshell Senate report released late on Thursday and completely covered up by mainstream media."
This statement is wrong or misleading in several ways — starting with its attempt to frame a Senate report from 2016 as a new and shocking release that the media ignored. Casual readers could have thought the Your News Wire story related to the recent FBI Inspector General’s report, which concerned Clinton’s use of personal emails and was released Thursday, June 14, 2018.
In reality, the Senate’s findings were widely reported in 2016, and the many contemporary news stories — including an Associated Press investigation that overlapped with the Senate report — made our fact-checking job easy.
The Senate report said that HHS placed more than a dozen migrant children in homes where they were sexually assaulted, starved or forced into labor.
The report did not say anything about Clinton playing a role in that process.
Both the Senate report and AP investigation discovered that HHS, which is responsible for finding adult sponsors to temporarily house and care for unaccompanied immigrant children pending the resolution of their immigration proceedings, neglected to comply with federal law requiring that the children be protected from human trafficking and other forms of abuse.
As unaccompanied children surged across the southern border toward the beginning of the decade, the department slashed several safety standards in order to quickly transfer the new arrivals from government shelters to sponsors’ homes.
Caseworkers who had previously followed strict guidelines for placing children with sponsors — guidelines that required background checks, fingerprints, home studies and signed agreements to bring the children to immigration court — were instructed by agency officials in November 2013 to stop fingerprinting. Shortly after that, they were also instructed to stop requesting original copies of birth certificates, seeking personal and identifying information, or checking criminal history.
The hastened process saw several children placed in households with sponsors who forced them into labor or otherwise abused them, according to the Senate and AP reports. It is unknown exactly how many of the approximately 90,000 migrant children placed into sponsor custody between 2013 and 2015 experienced trafficking or other abuse.
But neither report mentioned Clinton or used the term "gift" in reference to the placement of children with human traffickers.
We could not find any evidence that Clinton, who led the Department of State during President Barack Obama’s first term in office, played a part in the rollback of the safety standards governing the protection of migrant children. Not only are the State Department and HHS separate executive agencies, but Clinton also stepped down as secretary of state in February 2013, months before HHS decided to stop fingerprinting in the first of many decisions that led to the children’s mistreatment.
Your News Wire tried implicating Clinton in an old but otherwise real Senate report. The website did not respond to a request for comment.
We rate this statement False.
YourNewsWire.com, "Senate Report Admits Clinton ‘Gifted’ Children To Human Traffickers," June 17, 2018
United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, "Protecting Unaccompanied Alien Children from Trafficking and Other Abuses: The Role of the Office of Refugee Resettlement," January 28, 2016
New York Magazine, "Report: Obama Administration Handed Child Migrants Over to Human Traffickers," January 29, 2016
The Associated Press, "AP INVESTIGATION: Fed’s failures imperil migrant children," January 25, 2016
The New York Times, "U.S. Placed Immigrant Children With Traffickers, Report Says," January 28, 2016
Read About Our Process
In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.