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HHS Lax on Screening of Sponsors for Unaccompanied Children

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January 28, 2016 | 704 views | Post a comment

Cornyn: ‘Given the clear threat that these children face ... it's irresponsible for us not to do something about this while we can.’

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor today following a report issued by the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, led by Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), outlining the inadequate screening process through which unaccompanied children are released to sponsors by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Excerpts of Sen. Cornyn’s remarks are below, and video of his speech can be found here.

“This morning, under the leadership of Chairman Portman from Ohio, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations held a hearing to explore a disturbing and tragic problem related to this flow of unaccompanied children coming across our nation's southern border. After these children are apprehended by the Border Patrol, they're placed in the hands of the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that they receive the proper care.”

“Shockingly, Health and Human Services is releasing many of these children to sponsors who have been convicted of serious crimes, including human trafficking, sexual exploitation, and violent offenses. And instead of using commonsense procedures like we already see in place, for example, in international adoptions, including extensive background checks, thorough interviews, and multiple home visits to make sure that a child is being placed in a safe and secure situation, the placement process for these migrant children is riddled with loopholes.”

“They have a moral obligation -- I would hope all people of goodwill would agree -- to make sure these children are safe and not place them, because of negligence or inadvertence or just recklessness, in the hands of people who will exploit them and abuse them.”

“I was proud to sponsor a piece of legislation last Congress called the Helping Unaccompanied Alien Minors and Alleviating National Emergency Act, or the HUMANE Act in short. This legislation would require all potential sponsors of unaccompanied children to undergo a rigorous biometric criminal history check.”

“Given the clear threat that these children face and the anecdotes that I've described here and that are described in horrific fashion in Senator Portman's report, it's irresponsible for us not to do something about this while we can.”

Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees.
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