U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (R-Montgomery) is going after the Biden White House's screening of household members of underage migrant children when placing them with a U.S. sponsor after detainment at the southern border.
At a Wednesday hearing of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Britt questioned Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra about the administration's policies in handling unaccompanied minors at the southern border.
After her recent appointment as the ranking member of the Homeland Security Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Britt has prioritized securing the southern border.
Under current law, most unaccompanied minors are referred to the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) Program within the Office of Refugee Resettlement in the Administration for Children and Families of HHS to be resettled with a "sponsor" in the United States while awaiting their removal proceedings in immigration court at a future date, which can take years. Sponsors are supposed to be capable of providing for the physical and mental well-being of UACs.
More than 330,000 unaccompanied minors have already been encountered at the border since President Joe Biden took office in January 2021.
In 2021, the Biden administration changed its border policies, stating HHS would no longer require background checks for adult household members and alternate adult caregivers within specific categories of sponsors.
At the hearing, Britt questioned Becerra on the administration's policies in doing background checks on all adult household members for sponsors.
"[T]he UAC Program is plagued by deficiencies and poor management which, combined with this Administration's reckless and irresponsible policies, encourage illegal immigration, and, I believe, has put the lives of children and their well-being at risk," Britt said.
She continued, "We're spending a lot of money on a program that just isn't working very well. I believe it isn't a lack of funding. It is departmental policy and management failures that are our problem."
When Britt asked Becerra if the policies required background checks on all adult members of a sponsor's household, he responded, "[I]t will depend."
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