June 7, 2024

Young, Colleagues Urge Biden Administration to Overturn Rule Enabling Abuse of Unaccompanied Migrant Children

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), along with 44 Senate colleagues, introduced a bipartisan Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to strike down the Biden Administration’s rule endangering the safety and wellbeing of unaccompanied migrant children. The CRA would force meaningful reforms to the government’s Unaccompanied Children (UC) program.

“Last year, I joined my Senate Republican colleagues in warning the Biden Administration that its policies were harmful and failed to protect vulnerable children. Unfortunately, the Administration moved forward to finalize this rule, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. Our resolution aims to stop this program,” said Senator Young.

“The Biden administration ignored warnings from Congress and the Inspector General that its policies put children at risk and instead moved to finalize its current rule. Biden’s Health and Human Services Department has lost tens of thousands of vulnerable kids and handed over many others to abusers and criminals. This exploitation is one of the most heartbreaking tragedies the Biden Border Crisis has created. Since the Biden administration has refused to lift a finger to fix this problem, it’s now up to Congress to put a stop to it,” said Senator Grassley.

Migrant children who enter the U.S. illegally without an adult are detained and placed in the UC program, run by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). HHS’s UC program is intended to reunify unaccompanied migrant children with family members or other trusted adult sponsors residing in the U.S. The federal government pays contractors and grantees billions of taxpayer dollars to operate the UC program and enforce HHS’s negligent policies. 

The HHS rule, which was finalized in April, codifies harmful practices, including:   

  1. Lax or optional sponsor vetting; 
  2. Refusal to consider a sponsor’s criminal record, including illegal drug use, history of abuse or neglect, or other necessarily disqualifying child welfare concerns;   
  3. Refusal to share a sponsor’s immigration status with law enforcement;  
  4. Weak standards for post-release home studies to determine a child’s status or safety once in the custody of a sponsor; and 
  5. Restrictions on whistleblowers’ rights to disclose to Congress and the HHS Inspector General information on wrongdoing and misconduct in the program.  

Senator Young joined 38 Senate colleagues in a letter condemning HHS’s then-Proposed Rule as “wholly unworkable.” The senators urged HHS to “discard [the rule] and its current practices” or face a resolution of disapproval. This CRA follows through on that promise.  

In addition to Senators Young and Grassley, the resolution is cosponsored by Senators Joe Manchin (I-W. Va.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Cindy Hyde-Smith, (R-Miss.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), J.D. Vance (R-Ohio), Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.), Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Rick Scott (R-Fla.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), John Thune (R-S.D.), John Boozman (R-Ark.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.).  

Full text of the resolution is can be found here.