June 17, 2018
Statement by HHS Deputy Secretary Hargan on Unaccompanied Alien Children Facilities
Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan issued the following statement regarding the upcoming Congressional tours of the Unaccompanied Alien Children facilities:
"We look forward to having several members of Congress tour HHS – funded Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) facilities in Texas and California today and tomorrow. Congress gave HHS the responsibility to care for these children and teenagers, and we take this legal mandate very seriously. It is our hope that as members tour the facilities they will see the facilities for what they are intended to provide: safe and healthy environments for children and teenagers to reside until such time as they can be released to an appropriate sponsor, while their immigration cases are adjudicated."
"Unfortunately, the need for these facilities has grown over the last decade, in large part because of the flaws in our immigration system that draw many immigrants to try to cross our borders illegally. As a result, temporary shelters have been necessary to ensure that HHS is able to meet its responsibility, by law, to provide shelter for UAC referred to our care by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). As was done in the previous administration in the summer of 2014 at Lackland Air Force Base and again in January and February of 2016 at Holloman Air Force Base, HHS has established a semi-permanent shelter in Tornillo, Texas. These semi-permanent structures have ventilation and cooling to ensure appropriate temperature, and teenagers at Tornillo range in age from 13-17. No UAC under the age of 13 are placed at semi-permanent facilities such as Tornillo."
"Their age and the hazardous journey they take, make unaccompanied alien children vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse. This is why we insist on proper processes for elected officials and media tours of our facilities and why we do not permit outside cameras inside facilities or interviews with children in our care. Disregarding those processes puts the children and teens in our care at real risk."
"It is unfortunate that there are still some who fail to understand the role of HHS in caring for these children and teenagers. We need fewer media stunts and more real solutions. We welcome additional elected officials to visit these facilities, and it is my sincere hope that after their visit, Members of Congress heed the call of the Trump Administration to close dangerous loopholes in U.S. immigration laws that are the root cause of this issue. Until these laws are fixed, the American taxpayer is paying the bill for costly programs that can only temporarily try to address the consequences of our broken immigration system."
Please see below for footage of the UAC facilities in Brownsville, TX and San Diego, CA:
San Diego: https://youtu.be/mHWKjUtbYtc
Photos of Casa Padre Shelter, Brownsville, TX: