By Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer
WASHINGTON, D.C. – During an Education and the Workforce Committee hearing, Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) pressed U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra on the department’s failure to adequately vet sponsors for undocumented children arriving in the United States. The questioning followed a letter Chavez-DeRemer sent with Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05), which requested more information from the Biden administration on reports that migrant children were being trafficked and forced to work illegally in the U.S.
“As some of my colleagues have mentioned, your impatience to place undocumented children with sponsors at a faster rate than your caseworkers could handle placed thousands of kids in dangerous conditions where they were exploited for labor. Kids as young as 12; some even died. This is a chilling failure of leadership,” Chavez-DeRemer said in her opening remarks. “Let’s make sure this never happens again.”
Chavez-DeRemer asked Becerra to commit to working with the committee so they can adequately address the issue, including how the sponsorship process has been abused. Becerra confirmed the department would continue working with the committee “to make sure that we are doing everything possible to protect the children who are in our care.”
Additionally, Chavez-DeRemer questioned Becerra on the department’s efforts to improve the vetting process, areas where Congress needs to step in to provide clarification and assistance, and how the federal government can better coordinate to protect undocumented children from abuse.
“I think there’s little words that can describe the anger that we all felt when we read the New York Times story, when it broke. We do feel like there was a betrayal of trust for our most vulnerable kids in this country, and, you know, they’re surrounded by those strange faces – I just can’t imagine that for my own kids or anybody else’s kids,” Chavez-DeRemer concluded. “I do expect that you will honor those commitments that you’ve made to me today.”
Watch Chavez-DeRemer’s full line of questioning here: