In Hearing, Cornyn Presses HHS Official on Failure to Vet Sponsors of Unaccompanied Children
Senator to HHS official: ‘You’ve been asked to do an impossible task because of the failed policies of this Administration by attracting all of these unaccompanied children across our borders and then
Jo-Carolyn Goode | 2/23/2016, 3 p.m.
WASHINGTON – Today during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) questioned Mark Greenberg, the Department of Health and Human Services Acting Assistant Secretary of Administration for Children and Families, about the Obama Administration’s failure to properly vet potential sponsors for unaccompanied immigrant children in their custody. Excerpts of their exchange are below and video can be found here.
Senator Cornyn: “Mr. Greenberg, as you sit here today, can you tell this committee under oath that none of the 127,000 unaccompanied children who have been placed with sponsors in the United States have been sexually abused, have been trafficked, or forced into coerced labor?”
Assistant Secretary Greenberg: “Senator, thank you for the concern that you’re raising. We share that concern.”
Cornyn: “I’d like you to answer. Can you tell us that none of these 127,000 unaccompanied children that have been placed by your agency with sponsors in the United States, that none of them have been sexually abused, trafficked, or forced into coerced labor?”
Greenberg: “Senator, I could not make a statement like that…”
Cornyn: “So the answer is you cannot testify under oath that that’s not happening. Because you know it is happening, right?”
Greenberg: “Senator, what I can tell you is that we are committed to putting in place and having in place the protections and safeguards that are crucial for these children, and the ones I’ve talked about…”
Cornyn: “Mr. Greenberg, I have no doubt that you are doing the best you can – you think you can – under the circumstances. You’ve been asked to do an impossible task because of the failed policies of this Administration by attracting all of these unaccompanied children across our borders and then flooding our court system and the backlog that makes it impossible for the immigration judges to adjudicate these cases, so they’re now being placed with sponsors that are not necessarily even citizens, not necessarily even family members, and you have humanitarian disasters like have been described by the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, among others.”
Senator Cornyn and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) last week sent a letter to the Secretaries of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security seeking more information about the current screening processes for potential sponsors of unaccompanied children in custody of the federal government.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Judiciary and Finance Committees.
For more information, visit cornyn.senate.gov