Via America’s Lawyer: Children living near a PA fracking well are found to have multiple biochemicals accumulate in their bodies. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss. Plus, Via America’s Lawyer: Unaccompanied minors are flocking to the southern border as the Biden administration deals with the highest immigration rate in almost twenty years. RT correspondent Brigida Santos joins Mike Papantonio to explain more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Well look, a new study has revealed that fracking chemicals are being found in the bodies of children in Pennsylvania. Now, between you and me, that’s no surprise. We were, I think you and I were reporting about this easily 15 years ago. I mean, I think that’s about when we started talking about fracking and back then we were saying, you know, why is it that they’re keeping all the chemicals that they use in fracking such a secret. They were being sued in multiple jurisdictions for one thing and that is, just tell us the chemicals that you’re using. We want to know whether they’re going to kill our children. We, we saw examples of being able to set, set fire to water that was coming out of spickets and we knew, okay, that might be benzene. It might be toluene. It might be styrene. It could be any number of things that are causing that, that combustion. But they kept it secret and the, the, let’s see. The, the Bush administration allowed them to keep it secret. The Obama administration allowed them to keep it secret. It looks like now the secret’s out. What do you think?

Farron Cousins:                  I think we’re going to see more studies like this, especially now that this one has come out and this one was really only done, I think it was five households around a fracking site in Pennsylvania. But the, the numbers, the number of chemicals found in, in the children were absolutely through the roof. I’m talking about, you know, a hundred times more than the acceptable level of endocrine disruptors, of chemicals that are known to be carcinogen, carcinogenic. I mean, these children through no fault of their own are going to go through a life of long-term health problems, possibly a life that is dramatically cut short because these fracking companies are allowed to do what they’re doing with very little regulation, because that goes back decades with the Halliburton rule and they’re, they’re, they’re getting away with it right now. But as more studies come out, it’s going to be harder and harder for them to get away with this and that’s, you know, where people like you come in to take these people to court, to get some justice for these individuals and ultimately that is where this heads, probably within just a few years, I imagine.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, what’s the biggest problem is what the fracking industry has done is they’ve bought up all the biostitutes. A biostitute of course, you’ve heard me use the term as somebody that works, a scientist that works at a university and a scientist that’s out there trying to moonlight and make some extra cash by writing an article. They’ve done a really good job of hiring all the biostitutes. We see that happen all the time. We’ve seen it, you know, we’ve seen it with Roundup. We’ve seen it with dozens and dozens of chemicals. We’ve seen it with pharmaceutical cases. So right now they’re ahead, they’re ahead in the science game and so what Pennsylvania has allowed to happen is we now, if these numbers are even remotely correct, we’re seeing that the values a dozen times higher of things like benzene in the human body or toluene, in the human body. These aren’t just carcinogens. They shut down the liver, they shut down the kidneys. There’s some relationship to, to birth defects with some of these. But nevertheless, Pennsylvania rocks on and says, well, we’re making a lot of money and the deaths and the illness, maybe it’s worth it. What is your take?

Farron Cousins:                  Well, you know, one of the reasons Pennsylvania’s so bad on the issue of fracking too, by the way, and you and I, you and I have discussed this in the past so it’s worth bringing up again, is because this is an area where you had the Koch brothers come in with their little shadow organizations and they were funding all the races, Pennsylvania and Ohio, for things even including school board, to be able to allow fracking sites closer to schools. So, so this is a long time, you know, in the making here and now we’re finally starting to see these ramifications. But again, you know, as we’re talking about here, these children are basically being robbed of the opportunity to have a healthy life. You know, that’s the bottom line here and yes, the parents as well, they’ve, they’ve got the chemicals in them too. So this is going to be a persistent problem that stretches far beyond Pennsylvania.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, ultimately what happens is taxpayers pay for all of this, Farron. Taxpayers have to foot the medical bills that are going to take place, the disability bills that are going to take place. They’re going to have to foot the bills to clean up the waterways and the aquifers. These fracking companies come in here, they, they absolutely destroy aquifers, entire aquifers. They destroy, they, they, they destroy ecosystems in a sense and then the taxpayer 15 years later has to come in and they have to clean it up. By then, you have the fracking company that’s put all these billions of dollars in their pocket. It’s a great deal for them and taxpayers are left footing the bill.

Mike Papantonio:             Unaccompanied minors are crossing the border at higher pace this year, leaving the Biden administration scrambling to rebuild whatever they’ve created in the last several months. I have Brigida Santos joining me now to talk about this story. Brigida, the, you know, it’s that whole thing, you know, Biden comes into office and says Trump was awful. We have to agree with a lot of that. But the cameras, the reporting what’s happening on the border. It’s not only the same thing, it almost looks worse. What’s causing the surge of unaccompanied migrant children coming to the US besides Biden’s invitation, what’s happening down there?

Brigida Santos:                   Well, the current surge is partially due to the Biden administration’s reversal of immigration policies that were set under the previous administration. Unaccompanied minors at the border are no longer expelled from the country as they were previously and instead they’re processed at border facilities and transferred to shelters managed by health and human services, which ultimately places children with a US sponsor. Now homeland security reports that in 80% of cases, the sponsor is a family member and in half of those cases, that family member is a parent or legal guardian. So they’re coming here to be with family. But the extra flow plus pandemic related health and safety protocols are unfortunately slowing everything down. So border patrol facilities are now detaining children beyond the 72 hour legal limit and we’re starting to see photos of that emerging.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah. Well, how has the department of homeland security dealing with this incredible increase of child migration? What’s, what, what are they doing that’s different? If you, if you follow this story, it almost sounds like their right to do much has been, has been pulled back. What, what’s happening as this story develops?

Brigida Santos:                   Well, DHS is scrambling. The number of migrant children detained at the Southern US border has tripled in two weeks. And despite the additional risks of the pandemic, shelters for migrant children have now been instructed to return to full capacity. The Pentagon has also approved a request to house migrant children at two military facilities in Southern Texas. DHS is also reportedly setting up additional facilities in Arizona and Florida and soon child migrants may be held in facilities owned or operated by for-profit prison companies. Homeland security and immigrations and customs enforcement have long outsourced the country’s immigration detention system. So this is not something that would be outlandish. As of January 2020, 81% of people in ICE custody nationwide were held in facilities owned or operated by private prison corporations. Now in January, president Biden did sign an executive order directing the department of justice, not to renew contracts with private prison companies, but that order does not apply to other federal agencies like DHS or ICE. And according to the Intercept, at least three private companies have now posted job listings related to a child detention center in Florida that has a history of abuse. So this is very troubling.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, not only abuse. You, you see a lot of these prison companies, it’s, they’ve got a long history of failure. That’s the problem. They’re overcharging the government. They’re under-staffing people. They’re not even complying with the basic, basic parameters of what it should look like, and we continue to allow it anyway and now, now we’re, they’re just inviting more of them in. I mean, come on in and now take care of the children. What about the overall migration at the border? Is there an overall increase this year or is that, is, is, are those just figures that we’re hearing from folks who have an interest in stopping migration?

Brigida Santos:                   Yeah, of course. We’re not just seeing an increase in unaccompanied minors. We’re seeing an overall surge in migration. The US is now on track to encounter more migrants at the Southwest border than it has in two decades. Some of the reasons for the overall surge include the seasonal influx, climate disasters like hurricanes in Latin America, the war on drugs and US trade policies that have advanced American corporate interests at the expense of civilians in Latin America. Problems at the border have existed for a very long time and both political parties have failed completely to solve them.

Mike Papantonio:             Brigida, thank you for joining me. It sounds like it’s something that Biden better get busy with. I don’t know that sending Kamala Harris down there to take all the heat for this is the right thing to do, but we’ll see as this develops. Thank you for joining me. Okay.

Brigida Santos:                   Anytime, Mike.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.