WASHINGTON, July 31 (UPI) -- Michele Bachmann has spotted nefarious purposes in the government's care of migrant children coming from Central America.
Rep. Bachmann, R-Minn., accused the Obama administration of placing those children, who are often fleeing extreme violence and poverty in their home countries, in foster care in order to conduct medical research on them.
The conservative lawmaker, who is retiring from Congress at the end of this term, is promoting legislation that she introduced to ban federal funding for treatment or research that has "greater than minimal risk" on children who are wards of the state.
"We have 400,000 foster children in this country, and now President Obama is trying to bring all of those foreign nationals, the illegal aliens, to the country and he has said that he will put them in the foster care system," Bachmann said. "Well, I will tell you from personal experience, we don't have enough foster parents now in the country for the kids in America. We certainly don't have enough foster parents for all of the illegal aliens that the president is trying to bring in right now."
"That's more kids that you can see how -- we can't imagine doing this, but if you have a hospital and they are going to get millions of dollars in government grants if they can conduct medical research on somebody, and a ward of the state can't say 'no,'" she said. "A little kid can't say 'no' if they're a ward of the state. So here you could have this institution getting millions of dollars from our government to do medical experimentation and a kid can't even say 'no.' It's sick."
Bachmann spokesman Dan Kochman said the congresswoman introduced Justina's Law to advocate on behalf of vulnerable unaccompanied minors.
"As a foster mom of 23, she has a long track record of standing up for foster children and orphans. Her concern was that our foster care system, which is already short on foster care parents, would not have the capacity to handle this surge of unaccompanied children," Kochman said.
A 2008 anti-trafficking law requires unaccompanied child immigrants from noncontiguous countries to be placed in "the least restrictive setting that is in the best interest of the child" within 72 hours of detainment, until their deportation hearings. Because it can sometimes take years for children to be seen by an immigration judge, the law has played an outsize role in the debate over how to deal with the humanitarian crisis at the border.
Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children, mostly from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have entered the U.S. this year alone, seeking refuge from intensifying violence and poverty.
Republicans in Congress have blamed the law for encouraging parents to send their children to the U.S., with the idea that even staying a few years is better than staying home. Instead, the bill they plan to take up Thursday afternoon would require those children to be seen within a week of arrival, and would allow them to be sent home immediately.
Democrats say that would endanger the due process of the children who would qualify as refugees and endanger them by sending them home.