Hagerty, Grassley, Colleagues Demand Changes to Biden Admin Rule Endangering Safety and Wellbeing of Unaccompanied Alien Children

December 11, 2023

Negligent vetting standards and whistleblower muzzle provisions make federal guidelines for unaccompanied minors ‘wholly unworkable’

WASHINGTON—United States Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) joined Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), along with 37 other Senate Republican colleagues, in sending a letter calling on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to overhaul its harmful and deficient policies governing the agency’s treatment of unaccompanied alien children in the United States. ORR’s Proposed Rule – parts of which the agency is already enforcing – allows vulnerable children to be placed in the custody of unvetted, potentially criminal sponsors and obstructs whistleblowers from reporting to Congress on abuse in the program. Hagerty, Grassley, and fellow Republicans are demanding ORR rewrite its policies or face congressional action to overturn the finalized rule.

“This Proposed Rule ignores nearly seven years of oversight conducted by Congress and the Office of Inspector General and reveals chronic foot-dragging—if not total reluctance—when it comes to protecting vulnerable children,” the Senators wrote. “It provides ample protections to government bureaucrats at the expense of children. Even more concerning, ‘the requirements being [adopted] in this proposed rule are already enforced by [the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)].’”

“ORR does not even consider a sponsor’s criminal record, current illegal drug use, history of abuse or neglect, or other child welfare concerns ‘necessarily disqualifying to potential sponsorship.’…  In effect, ORR accepts a sponsor’s representations almost entirely on face value,” the Senators continued.

“ORR’s Proposed Rule abdicates the agency’s responsibility for protecting the vulnerable children in its custody from harmful behavior by poorly vetted, potential criminals. For these services, the taxpayer paid ORR $5.5 billion in FY2022. The Proposed Rule is wholly unworkable and ORR should discard it and its current practices. If not, Congress will have no choice but to introduce a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act,” the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter can be found here.