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Grassley and Senate Republicans Demand Changes to Biden Admin Rule Endangering Safety and Wellbeing of Unaccompanied Alien Children

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) today led 38 Senate Republicans in 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. 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.

Joining Grassley in sending the letter are Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Katie Boyd Britt (R-Ala.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

 

Grassley additionally sent letters to HHS, ORR and the Administration for Children and Families, along with the Office of Special Counsel, further outlining concerns that the Proposed Rule and other HHS policies violate federal whistleblower protections.

 

Full text of Grassley and Senate Republicans’ letter follows:

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