The independent watchdog of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is launching an investigation into the agency’s use of the Fort Bliss, Texas, facility to house unaccompanied migrant children following a whistleblower complaint. about the conditions on the site.
The The HHS Office of the Inspector General said will discuss interviews and on-site observations “regarding case management challenges at Fort Bliss that may have prevented the safe and timely delivery of children to sponsors.”
A report is expected to be released this year.
A large influx of unaccompanied children crossing the border in the spring of 2021 forced the Biden administration to open more than a dozen emergency admission facilities – temporary unlicensed facilities designed to meet basic standards of care for children. short term.
Fort Bliss is the largest, accommodating up to 10,000 children. As of the end of July, only five emergency intake sites remained open, according to HHS.
According to the Office of the Inspector General, in the months since the Fort Bliss facility opened, “several individuals have expressed concern about the quality of case management provided there and its negative impact on safety and well-being. of the kids”.
While unaccompanied children are in government custody, the United States is supposed to locate relatives or sponsors who can care for them while they work out their immigration status. Poor case management could result in prolonged stays in facilities intended to be temporary.
Multiple whistleblowers have come forward in recent days to complain about overcrowding, dirty conditions and inadequate access to mental health services at the facility, after the government allegedly hired several companies with no experience in childcare.
One complaint also alleged that HHS told workers to minimize the degree of COVID-19 infection among children at the site.