UNITED STATES NEWS

Biden administration failed to vet adults housing migrant children, federal watchdog says

Feb 15, 2024, 5:00 PM

 

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration struggled to properly vet and monitor the homes where they placed a surge of migrant children who arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border in 2021, according to a federal watchdog report released Thursday.

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.

“We found that children’s case files and sponsor records were not always updated with important documentation and information,” said Haley Lubeck, an analyst for the HHS Office of Inspector General, which conducted the review.

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.

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

The report comes as President Joe Biden is facing intense pressure around his immigration policies. Since he took office, the administration has grappled with millions of migrants traveling to the border and faced scrutiny over how it handles children who arrive in the U.S. without parents. HHS, in particular, has been criticized for releasing those kids too quickly from government shelters, discharging them to adults who have allowed them to be exploited by major companies for cheap, dangerous, and illegal labor.

The federal watchdog analyzed the case files of more than 300 migrant children from early 2021, months after thousands of children had trekked to the U.S. border seeking asylum. In March and April of that year, HHS placed more than 16,000 children with adults.

HHS is supposed to obtain IDs for the adults – called sponsors – who take in migrant children.

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 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.

And, for every five cases, HHS didn’t follow up to check on the children it had placed, often for months.

HHS is supposed to have a follow up call with every child and their sponsor between 30 to 37 days after placement. But in cases where the agency failed to follow up with the children, it took on average about 122 days for a caseworker to reach out, the OIG’s analysis found.

The OIG’s investigations have previously found that the administration rushed to respond to the migrant surge in 2021, failing to adequately train staff dealing with the cases of children.

___

This story has been corrected to fix the percentage of cases that did not have basic safety checks from 15% to 16%.

 

United States News

Supporters wave to former President Donald Trump as he arrives to the Milwaukee Mitchell Internatio...

Associated Press

America’s toxic political climate faces calls to ‘tone it down’ after assassination attempt on Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Tone it down!” That was the plea from one Republican congressman as he came to grips with the assassination attempt against Donald Trump at a political rally in the Butler Farm area where he grew up. “I am in a state of bewilderment of how and what has happened to the United […]

48 minutes ago

Associated Press

Winston, beloved gorilla at San Diego Zoo Safari Park, dies at 52 after suffering health problems

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (AP) — Winston, a western lowland gorilla who was a favorite attraction at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, has died at the age of 52 after suffering multiple health problems, officials said. The park said Winston was euthanized Saturday after veterinarians determined his condition was declining. “After careful consideration stemming from furthering […]

1 hour ago

President Joe Biden addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Sun...

Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden warns of election-year rhetoric, saying ‘It’s time to cool it down’

President Joe Biden warned Sunday of the the risks of political violence in the U.S. after Saturday’s attempted assassination of former President Donald Trump, saying, “It's time to cool it down.”

2 hours ago

Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks in Washington, May 22, 2024. Haley on Tuesday, July 9, op...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley, Trump’s former primary rival, will now speak Tuesday at the Republican convention

Nikki Haley will speak Tuesday at the RNC in what will be a highly anticipated speech by Donald Trump's last major challenger.

3 hours ago

Gov. Greg Abbott receives a briefing for Hurricane Beryl from local elected officials Sunday, July ...

Associated Press

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott demands answers as customers remain without power after Beryl

DALLAS (AP) — With around 350,000 homes and businesses still without power in the Houston area almost a week after Hurricane Beryl hit Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday said he’s demanding an investigation into the response of the utility that serves the area as well as answers about its preparations for upcoming storms. “Power […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Acclaimed video artist Bill Viola dies at 73, created landmark `Tristan und Isolde’ production

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Bill Viola, a video artist who combined with director Peter Sellars on a groundbreaking production of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” originally seen in Los Angeles, Paris and New York, has died at age 73. Viola died Friday at his home in Long Beach of Alzheimer’s disease, his website announced. What […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

Biden administration failed to vet adults housing migrant children, federal watchdog says