Pallone Demands Azar Provide Overdue Report on HHS’s Efforts to Care for Migrant Children
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar demanding HHS provide the Committee with a legally required report on the agency’s plan to care for unaccompanied children in their custody including children forcibly separated from their families due to the Trump Administration’s so-called zero tolerance policy.
The report is required as part of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act of 2019, which was signed into law by President Trump on June 24, 2019. That law included a requirement that Secretary Azar submit to Congress within 14 days of enactment a formal strategy and report regarding the oversight of, and care for, unaccompanied children within HHS’s custody. The deadline to submit the report to Congress was July 8, 2019. To date, HHS has failed to provide the report or any formal response regarding the report.
“I have not received this mandated report, nor any formal correspondence from you in response, and it appears that HHS has chosen to ignore the statute,” Pallone wrote to Secretary Azar. “HHS’s failure to comply with this requirement is especially concerning given the ongoing crisis at our southern border, as new reports surface each day regarding the horrific conditions faced by migrant children in U.S. custody as they await transfer into the Office of Refugee Resettlement.”
Pallone continued, “I expected a response from HHS pursuant to Section 704 by the deadline included in the Act. Please provide me with an update on the status of this mandate and when HHS intends to deliver the formal strategy and report to the Committees. This formal strategy and report is critical to ensuring the safety and security of the migrant children at the border, and I strongly urge you to take every step necessary to comply with the law immediately.”
According to the law, HHS is required to provide the report to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and to the Senate HELP Committee.
Pallone’s letter to Secretary Azar HERE.