Becerra testifies on migrant child care at HHS budget hearing

Washington DC

WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Department of Health and Human Services is asking Congress for $4.3 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement which handles the care the unaccompanied migrant children.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat, wants to know what HHS will do to expedite placing the children in the care of safe sponsors.

“I will continue to push for a more transparent program, oversight and monitoring of these facilities especially with these large numbers of children,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT).

But Washington Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler, a Republican, is worried sponsors aren’t always vetted.

“This makes me sick, to hear that the FBI vetting is not actually always taking place means we could be helping traffic children,” Beutler said.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told lawmakers proper vetting takes time an his department cares for the children in the meantime.

“There have been cases in the past, none that I’m aware in the time that I’ve been secretary, but there have been cases in the past where a child has ended up in the hands of someone who’s either trafficked them for sex or labor,” Becerra said. “While they are with us, we are hoping to provide them not only with the medical services that you would expect for any child, but also the care which would include educational and recreational services.”

Becerra admitted it is becoming harder to provide all the things required by law due to the high numbers of migrant children still arriving in the United States.

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