Monday, October 15, 2018

Hispanic Caucus demands answers on detention of immigrant children

The leaders of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) called yesterday for the top federal official in charge of refugee resettlement to explain the administration’s policies on detention of immigrant minors.

In a letter to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd obtained by The Hill, the CHC asked for a meeting with its members “to discuss what ORR is doing to ensure the safety of children in your custody.”

The CHC has met previously to discuss immigration issues with President Trump’s ‘s three Homeland Security secretaries, and in September appealed to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar for information on the housing of undocumented minors.

In the letter led by CHC Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), the Democrats reference Trump’s zero-tolerance policy, which led to over 2,500 children being separated from their parents by federal authorities at the border. “It has been more than three months since a judge ordered the reunification of these children and over 100 children remain separated from their families. We would like to speak to you about the remaining separated children and the administration’s timeline in ensuring timely completion of reunification of these families,” reads the letter.

Despite the zero-tolerance policy being rolled back, the number of unaccompanied minors in federal detention has grown to a record 13,300 over the past few months. According to the letter, that’s due to a number of factors, including a new administration policy to run fingerprint checks on potential foster families, dissuading undocumented immigrants from participating in the foster program.

“This drastic increase is not due to a surge at the border, but rather ORR creating a bottleneck by slowing the release of children to family members and sponsors in the community,” the CHC wrote in its letter to Lloyd.

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