Senate Republicans accused the Biden administration of covering up widespread child trafficking at the southern border, alleging taxpayer money is funding “slavery” in America.

Government whistleblowers and GOP lawmakers criticized President Joe Biden and officials for refusing to cooperate with a Senate investigation into the whereabouts of 500,000 unaccompanied migrant children apprehended under Biden’s administration.

“Please understand this is taxpayer-funded child slavery sanctioned by our government and brought to you by [nongovernmental organizations],” said Department of Health and Human Services whistleblower Deborah White at a congressional roundtable.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), the top Republican on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, accused HHS and the Department of Labor of covering up failures in caring for 500,000 parentless immigrant children in custody at the border.

“This blatant lack of transparency with the American people is reprehensible,” Cassidy said, accusing the administration of trying to shield itself from scrutiny, especially in an election year.

White described the situation as “the biggest failure in government history” she had witnessed. She claimed HHS leadership allowed children to be trafficked despite repeated warnings.

Over the past 17 months, Cassidy has led Republicans in investigating how children were detained and the companies using child workers. The investigation followed a New York Times report revealing the Biden administration lost track of 85,000 unaccompanied children at the border.

Another HHS whistleblower, Tara Lee Rodas, recounted a case involving a 16-year-old Guatemalan girl trafficked and exploited by her supposed sponsor in North Carolina.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) criticized HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas for not cooperating with the investigation.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) has written to HHS contractors and grantees for answers about how children’s sponsors are vetted but has not received responses.

In April 2023, Cassidy expanded the investigation to include the Labor Department over claims of ignoring the exploitation of migrant children.

Lawmakers learned that four children in HHS ORR care had recently died while in custody. The committee’s Republicans expanded the investigation following reports of children with latent Tuberculosis being released to sponsors in 44 states.

Investigators aim to conclude the investigation by the end of the year, according to a committee aide.