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Tim Ballard, ‘Sound of Freedom’ hero, calls on feds to protect 85,000 missing migrant kids

The former Homeland Security agent whose fight against child trafficking was the basis for the hit movie “Sound of Freedom” wants the Biden administration to get serious about protecting immigrant children.

Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, joined Rep. Chris Smith, New Jersey Republican, to promote legislation at a Tuesday press conference that would require the federal government to track down the estimated 85,000 unaccompanied minors no longer in contact with authorities.

Mr. Ballard said that the missing migrant children deserve the same protection as an American child found wandering alone in a major U.S. city, especially since he said the U.S. is the “number-one country in consuming child-exploitation material.”

“So my question for this administration: Why will you not at the very least give these foreign children that same protection? You’re giving them no protection, hardly any at all. In fact, what you’re giving them is a joke,” he said.

Mr. Smith’s bill, the Safeguarding Endangered Children, Unaccompanied and at Risk of Exploitation [SECURE] Act, directs the relevant federal agencies to report on their activities regarding the children released into the country to a parent, relative or sponsor since Jan. 1, 2021.

The agencies would have to detail their efforts to locate the children, to conduct wellness checks on them, and to investigate suspected human trafficking in them.

About 345,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border since early 2021, according to the bill, citing U.S. Customs and Border Protection figures. Of those, an estimated 85,000 have lost contact with federal officials, putting them at risk of child exploitation and abuse, forced labor, and sex trafficking.

“The Biden Administration must be held accountable for its failed open border policies that have put tens of thousands of children in grave danger and at great risk of death, child sexual exploitation and abuse,” Mr. Smith said in a statement.

He drafted the bill in collaboration with Roger Severino, vice president of domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation, and Eduardo Verastegui, producer of “Sound of Freedom.”

Mr. Smith, a longtime opponent of human trafficking and author of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, praised the work of Mr. Ballard, who has helped rescue thousands of children from exploitation.

“We use the word hero all too often in public life,” said the congressman. “This man is a hero.”

Mr. Ballard is scheduled to testify Thursday at a hearing on the bill before the House Foreign Affairs global affairs subcommittee, which Mr. Smith chairs.

Angel Studios raised $5 million through crowd-funding to market “Sound of Freedom,” which stars Jim Caviezel as Mr. Ballard.

Released July 4, the movie became a surprise smash, grossing $210 million worldwide and allowing the studio to pay back its investors plus 20%.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁