House Democrats to question Trump official who prolonged detention of hundreds of migrant kids

Among the witnesses at the House Judiciary Committee’s Tuesday hearing on the Trump administration’s family separation policy will be the official tasked with heading the office caring for migrant kids (despite having zero experience caring for migrant kids). 

“Until now,” Politico reports, former Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) director Scott Lloyd “has been shielded from public scrutiny by the health department and close allies in the White House, according to four administration officials who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive personnel matter.” This is despite Lloyd single-handedly prolonging the detention of hundreds of migrant kids, Huffington Post’s Roque Planas reported in July, by telling “subordinates last year that he’d have to personally sign off before any kids could be released from ORR’s secure facilities. As a result, hundreds of kids spent extra time in the jail-like facilities.”

Lloyd also spend his time heading ORR trying to block abortion access for undocumented teens, including making “pregnant minors undergo invasive and unnecessary ultrasounds and visit anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers,” Daily Kos’s Sarah Hogg wrote in May.

Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar “and other officials lost faith in Lloyd last summer as his office struggled to reunite migrant families, and Lloyd was effectively removed from leading the refugee office in the midst of the crisis.” But rather than being ousted entirely, Lloyd was moved to another HHS program to serve as an adviser.

But Azar remains equally negligent, because more than 200 days past a federal judge’s reunification deadline, children stolen from families under the policy remain in U.S. custody. Azar has refused requests to testify on the family separation policy. It’s time for Democrats to stop asking him, and instead to start telling him.

“Two years into the Trump Administration’s wide array of dramatic and damaging immigration policy changes, it is unbelievable that so much harm has occurred to so many people with so little congressional oversight,” said chair Jerry Nadler at the start of today’s hearing. “That ends with this new Congress.”

 

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