GOP Senators Object to Biden’s Migrant Rule

( – The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), published a proposed “Foundational” rule for the Unaccompanied Children (UC) Program in September 2023, functionally adopting the rule. The ACF released a Fact Sheet about the UC Program on November 4, 2023. However, 39 GOP senators, led by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC), strongly criticized ORR Director Robin Dunn Marcos and ACF Acting Assistant Secretary Jeff Hild regarding the new rule.

In a letter submitted by Grassley and Graham and signed by 37 other Republican senators on December 4, the lawmakers accused the proposed rule of ignoring almost seven years of oversight conducted by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and Congress, revealing what the senators “chronic foot-dragging — if not total reluctance —” to protect vulnerable children.

Moreover, the letter points out that the Office on Trafficking in Persons saw a 140% increase in requests for assistance from foreign national children, most described as unaccompanied minors between the ages of 13 and 17. Yet, despite that incredible statistic, senators understand that the proposed UC program rule would make vetting of most unaccompanied children’s sponsors optional. At its option, the ORR could decide to investigate living conditions, verify the identity and employment status of the sponsors, interview household members, or review criminal histories of sponsors and household members, but the senators point out that the new rule doesn’t require these checks prior to turning over custody of minor unaccompanied children to prospective sponsors.

Lawmakers criticize the rule for allowing the ORR to accept a sponsor’s representations at face value without performing any due diligence to ensure the child’s safety. Additionally, the legislators noted that the ORR took no responsibility for and made no provision to prevent a sponsor from giving an unaccompanied program child away by transferring custody to other unvetted parties.

Furthermore, Grassley and Graham raised the issue of whistleblower protection violations. The new rule requires any whistleblower to identify themself before contacting Congress with problems. Yet, the senators noted that whistleblower retaliation within HHS had become so pervasive that the OIG recommended mandatory whistleblower protection training for the department in 2022.

The GOP senators recommended that ORR discard the proposed rule and threatened to introduce a Resolution of Disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to roll back the rule if the ORR refused to act. Passing a joint Resolution of Disapproval requires President Joe Biden’s signature or passage by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress to overcome a veto.

~Here’s to Our Liberty!

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