Rep. Roybal-Allard, Other House Democratic Chairs Write to DHS, HHS Officials About Rights of Unaccompanied Children
House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40) has written to officials at the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Health and Human Services (HHS) demanding action to protect the rights and well-being of unaccompanied children. Chairwoman Roybal-Allard wrote these letters with Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), and House Judiciary Immigration and Citizenship Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19).
The Members sent a letter to Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf and Acting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director Matt Albence calling on DHS and ICE to guarantee due process protections for unaccompanied children. The letter’s full text can be read here.
“It is especially galling that DHS would choose a time of global pandemic to target such vulnerable children, denying them access to basic due process protections and a meaningful chance to have their cases reopened and appropriately considered,” the Members wrote to Acting Secretary Wolf and Acting Director Albence. “We urge DHS and ICE to cease this practice immediately and guarantee these children the due process protections they deserve. Specifically, the Department should ensure that children have meaningful opportunities to obtain legal assistance; assess their case information; file a motion to reopen, as appropriate; and be placed with a sponsor while their cases are pending.”
The Members also sent a letter to HHS Principal Deputy Inspector General Christi Grimm calling on her to investigate allegations that ICE is interfering with the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) legal obligation under the Flores Settlement to place children in the least restrictive settings, including placement with suitable sponsors. The letter’s full text can be read here.
“The fact that some children may have previously been subject to MPP is no excuse to violate the Flores Settlement Agreement or other legal obligations imposed by Congress,” the Members wrote to Principal Deputy Inspector General Grimm. “The HHS Office of Inspector General must conduct an impartial investigation into the allegation that ICE is interfering with ORR’s legal obligation to place children, previously subject to MPP, in the least restrictive settings appropriate for them.”