ICYMI: E&C Ramps Up Pressure on HHS Chief Becerra to Testify over Child Migrant Crisis
Lawmakers leave door open to compelling testimony if Becerra refuses to cooperate
House Republicans are holding the Biden administration accountable for the surge of migrants flowing across our border illegally and the exploitation of unaccompanied migrant children that has followed.
Despite publicly committing to Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chair Morgan Griffith that he would “absolutely” be willing to appear before the Subcommittee, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra has failed to make good on his promise.
On Friday, E&C Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Subcommittee Chair Griffith sent Secretary Becerra a letter demanding that he testify. In the letter, the Chairs outlined the great lengths to which they’ve gone to accommodate Secretary Becerra’s travel schedule and venue preference. They have offered a hearing date of June 13 or June 14.
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Becerra’s appearance is being sought as the U.S. is continuing to deal with a migrant crisis at the southern border now in its third year. While the primary agency dealing with the migrant surge is the Department of Homeland Security, unaccompanied minors encountered by Border Patrol are transferred into HHS custody, at which point officials attempt to find sponsors—typically a relative or parent—for them.
According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics, the number of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) who arrive at the border has increased from 33,239 in fiscal year 2020 to more than 146,000 in fiscal year 2021 and 152,000 in fiscal year 2022. So far in fiscal year 2023, there have been more than 70,000 encounters of UACs.
The Times reported how officials reportedly ignored signs of "explosive" growth in the child labor force, while staff members claimed Becerra pushed for discharging minors even quicker.
"If Henry Ford had seen this in his plants, he would never have become rich and famous," he was quoted by the Times as telling staff. "This is not the way you do an assembly line."
"In the event you do not select either of the above dates, the Committee will be forced to consider other avenues to secure testimony from you that is needed to fulfill our constitutional mandate to oversee the administration of these programs," they say.
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