Biden admin placed migrant children with unvetted adults, unmonitored: report

A new report reveals that the Biden administration placed children arriving at the southern border into homes that were not monitored and with adults who were not vetted.

This is according to a federal watchdog report released on Thursday after a review by the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services.

“We found that children’s case files and sponsor records were not always updated with important documentation and information,” Haley Lubeck, an OIG analyst said.

“I would define these gaps as very serious,” Lubeck said. “We know that these children are especially vulnerable to exploitation.”

The Associated Press reported:

The Department of Health and Human Services is required to screen adults who volunteer to take in children arriving in the country without parents. But the analysis concluded that the department failed to prove it ran basic safety checks — like address or criminal background checks — on some adults who took in children. In about a third of the cases reviewed by the federal watchdog, the agency did not have legible documentation for the adults on file.

 

The case files of more than 300 migrant children were reviewed in the analysis that found that the agency sometimes failed to execute even the bare minimum in handling the influx of children at the U.S.-Mexico border. In March and April of 2021, over 16,000 children were placed with adults by HHS. The adults, referred to as sponsors, were to be issued IDs but the review found a major problem in many of the cases examined.

“But the federal watchdog found that illegible IDs were submitted to HHS in more than a third of the cases analyzed during that time. Some IDs had missing holograms or blurry images, raising questions about whether they were forged documents,” the AP reported. “The agency also failed to provide proof it had conducted basic safety checks – like background checks or address checks – in 16% of the cases, the watchdog found.”

The OIG’s analysis also found a failure for every five cases to follow up with the children placed in the homes, sometimes taking an average of about 122 days for a caseworker to follow up with the children rather than the required 30 – 37 days.

“The federal health agency responded to the report by saying it has improved the process and the report only shows a limited window into how the agency handled cases ‘during an unprecedented influx.’ HHS said it has also added new training for its employees handling migrant children,” AP reported.

“The overwhelming majority of findings and recommendations address records management and documentation issues that (the agency) has already improved through training, monitoring, technology, and evaluation,” HHS spokesman Jeff Nesbit said.

One year ago, there were already alarms being raised that migrant children were “discharged from shelters and out of federal custody too quickly, pushing them into vulnerable situations where they’re more likely to become victims of child labor,” AP reported at the time.


Jennie Murray, president and CEO of the National Immigration Forum, is among the many voices calling on the Biden administration to do better.

“Protecting children must remain paramount,” Murray said in a statement.

“HHS and the Biden administration more broadly must take these findings seriously and do everything in their power to ensure that children are safe,” Murray added, calling on Congress to do its part as well.

“Congress should support these efforts not only by exercising oversight, but also by providing additional resources to ensure that agencies are adequately funded to screen sponsors and act in the best interest of children,” Murray said.

Frieda Powers

Comment

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, profanity, vulgarity, doxing, or discourteous behavior. If a comment is spam, instead of replying to it please click the ∨ icon below and to the right of that comment. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain fruitful conversation.

Latest Articles