Udall: HHS Failing To Disclose Information About Migrant Children In Agency’s Care, As Required By Congress

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Udall: HHS Failing To Disclose Information About Migrant Children In Agency’s Care, As Required By Congress

As part of oversight over Trump family separation policy, Udall secured language in 2019 appropriations bill requiring HHS to disclose key information about children in HHS custody. 

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) wrote to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging HHS to immediately disclose critical information about migrant children in its care, as required by language Udall secured in the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations bill. 

“Given the scope of the human tragedy and public interest of the Administration’s cruel family separation policy, and the chaotic execution and various false statements that accompanied it, the public deserves transparency about the number and fate of the children in HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) care,” Udall wrote. 

The administration is failing to comply with Udall’s report language, which was included as part of the 2019 Labor-HHS bill. The language directs HHS to:

1. Report weekly information to the Senate Appropriations Committee about migrant children under the care of the department;

2. Include information “for both all UACs and the children who were apprehended as part of a family unit, the number of children referred to HHS, the number currently in their care, the age and gender distribution of children, the average length of stay, the number of preteen children in both shelter beds and ORR-run foster care programs, the number of children released to sponsors, and the category of sponsor” in those weekly reports;

3. And include “historical monthly totals for all information provided, updated as it becomes available” in those weekly updates to enable the Committee to track the progress of HHS and DHS in reuniting separated children with their families.

The Senate report also “directs HHS to make this monthly information available publicly on its website, and to publish updates on the number of children who have been reunited with separated family members weekly on its website.”

“To date, your department has failed to comply with all of these important transparency requirements,” Udall said. “ORR’s website only includes very limited information based on fiscal year, with nothing regarding fiscal year 2019. In addition, I understand that your department has also failed to regularly include information specific to children who were separated from family units in the weekly information provided to the Senate Appropriations Committee for children in ORR care.  Your department was directed by the Senate Appropriations Committee to comply with this public reporting requirement, and to be open and honest about the number, status and fate of these children. Ignoring your obligations to Congress preventing the public from gaining transparency on this subject should not be tolerated.”

The full text of Udall’s letter is available HERE.