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In an experimental follow-up episode, listen along with Jen and Joe to the highlights of a Senate hearing examining the progress that has been made towards caring for the immigrant children who have been either taken from their immigrant parents or who arrived in the U.S. alone.Please Support Congressional Dish - Quick Links
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- Richard Hudson: Acting Chief of Law Enforcement Operations, US Border Patrol, US Department of Homeland Security
- Robert Guadian: Acting Deputy Assistant Diretor for Field Operations West, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, US Dept of Homeland Security
- Commander Jonathan D. White: U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Federal Health Coordinating Official for the 2018 Reunification Effort, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- James McHenry: Director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, US Dept of Justice
Alex Azar - Health and Human Services Secretary
27:50 Senator Ron Wyden (OR): How many kids who were in your custody because of the zero-tolerance policy have been reunified with a parent or a relative? Alex Azar: So, I believe we have had a high of over 2,300 children that were separated from their parents as a result of the enforcement policy. We now have 2,047.
- Ronald Vitiello - Acting Depury Commissioner of US Customs and Border Protection
- Lee Francis Cissna - Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
Thomas Homan - Acting Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
41:33 Thomas Homan: They’re separating families for two reasons. Number one, they can’t prove the relationship—and we’ve had many cases where children had been trafficked by people that weren’t their parents, and we’re concerned about the child. The other issues are when they’re prosecuted, then they’re separated.
37:40 Representative Filemon Vela (TX): So, with this new policy in place, at the point that you’re in a situation where you decide to separate the families, where do the minors go? Vitiello: The decision is to prosecute 100%. If that happens to be a family member, then HHS would then take care of the minor as an unaccompanied child.
39:58 Thomas Homan: As far as the question on HHS, under the Homeland Security Act 2002, we’re required, both the Border Patrol and ICE, to release unaccompanied children to HHS within 72 hours. So, we simply—once they identify within that 72 hours a bed someplace in the country, our job is to get that child to that bed. Then HHS, their responsibility is to reunite that child sometime with a parent and make sure that child gets released to a sponsor that’s being vetted.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions Today we are here to send a message to the world: we are not going to let this country be overwhelmed. People are not going to caravan or otherwise stampede our border. We need legality and integrity in the system. That’s why the Department of Homeland Security is now referring 100 percent of illegal Southwest Border crossings to the Department of Justice for prosecution. And the Department of Justice will take up those cases. I have put in place a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal entry on our Southwest border. If you cross this border unlawfully, then we will prosecute you. It’s that simple.Hearing: Oversight of HHS and DHS Efforts to Protect Unaccompanied Alien Children from Human Trafficking and Abuse, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, C-SPAN, April 26, 2018.
- James McCament - Deputy Under Secretary of the Office of Strategy, Policy, and Plans at the Dept. of Homeland Security
- Steven Wagner - Acting Assistant Secretary for Administration for Children and Facilities at the Dept. of Health and Human Services
Kathryn Larin - Director for Education, Workforce, and Income Security Team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office
45:05 Kathryn Larin: In 2015, we reported that the interagency process to refer unaccompanied children from DHS to ORR shelters was inefficient and vulnerable to error. We recommended that DHS and HHS develop a joint collaborative process for the referral and placement of unaccompanied children. In response, the agencies recently developed a memorandum of agreement that provides a framework for coordinating responsibilities. However, it is still under review and has not yet been implemented.
1:51:28 Sen. Portman: Mr. Wagner, give me a timeframe. Wagner: Sir, we have to incorporate the new MOA in the draft JCO. Honestly, we are months away, but I promise to work diligently to bring it to a conclusion.
1:57:15 Senator Rob Portman (OH): Okay, we learned this morning that about half, maybe up to 58%, of these kids who are being placed with sponsors don’t show up at the immigration hearings. I mean, they just aren’t showing up. So when a sponsor signs the sponsorship agreement, my understanding is they commit to getting these children to their court proceedings. Is that accurate, Mr. Wagner? Steven Wagner: That is accurate. And in addition, they go through the orientation on responsibilities of custodians. Sen. Portman: So, when a child does not show up, HHS has an agreement with the sponsor that has been violated, and HHS, my understanding, is not even notified if the child fails to show up to the proceedings. Is that accurate? Wagner: That is accurate, Senator. Sen. Portman: So you have an agreement with the sponsor. They have to provide this agreement with you, HHS. The child doesn’t show up, and you’re not even notified. So I would ask you, how could you possibly enforce the commitment that you have, the agreement that you have, with the sponsor if you don’t have that information? Wagner: I think you’re right. We have no mechanism for enforcing the agreement if they fail to show up for the hearing.
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