On July 30th, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC), questioned Mark Morgan, Acting Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Jennifer Costello, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Inspector General, on the conditions faced by migrant children at CBP facilities. The July 30th, hearing was scheduled following Rosen’s request for immediate hearings on the health and safety conditions of migrant children in detention and processing centers at the southern border.
“I asked last month for three needed reforms. I placed holds on two DHS nominees and I’m going to keep my holds in place until the facilities drastically improve,” said Senator Rosen. “As you know, a couple of weeks ago we went down and visited Donna, McAllen, and Ursula, and saw the conditions of detention centers holding migrant children. They are slightly better than what was reported several weeks prior, and those facilities are still no place for children to stay for prolonged periods of time, or really any amount of time.”
“I have been advised by child welfare advocates from various non-profit organizations that there are three immediate changes needed at CBP: 1) More medical professionals with pediatric experience at CBP facilities; 2) The hiring of trauma-informed child welfare professionals to ensure the best interests of the children are being met; and 3) Providing NGO access to CBP facilities to assist with the humanitarian efforts. Last week, I sent a letter to Secretary McAleenan outlining these needs. In spite of the urgent situation at the border, I have yet to hear back from him. So I’m asking in the interest of time if you would answer these similar questions in yes or no fashion. Commissioner Morgan, who currently screens children for illnesses or injury after apprehension by CBP? Is it a medically trained professional?” Senator Rosen continued.
“Approximately how many more medical professionals with pediatric experience and child welfare professionals do you plan to hire?” asked Senator Rosen.
Watch video of Senator Rosen’s remarks here.
BACKGROUND: Last week, Senator Rosen took to the Senate floor to demand immediate action and an end to the inhumane treatment of migrant children at the southern border. Rosen outlined reforms that DHS must make in order to improve conditions for migrants children, which were outlined in a letter she sent to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan. Also last week, Rosen voted against Chad Wolf’s nomination as Undersecretary for Strategy, Policy, and Plans for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Rosen placed a hold on Wolf’s nomination to be Undersecretary last month and will maintain the hold until a non-governmental third party certifies that DHS has ended the systematic mistreatment of children at CBP detention and processing centers.
Two weeks ago, Rosen along with Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and 12 of her Senate colleagues, traveled to McAllen, Texas to inspect and evaluate the conditions at CBP facilities.
In June, Senator Rosen joined her colleagues in sending a letter to Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) requesting a hearing on the health and safety conditions of migrant children arriving at the southern border. Also in June, Rosen led 17 of her colleagues in sending a letter to DHS Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, raising concerns about a recent Office of Inspector General report detailing severe and dangerous overcrowding of migrants at El Paso Del Norte Processing Center during unannounced inspections conducted on May 8 and 9, 2019.
In May, Senator Rosen questioned Acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan on misleading statements DHS officials made to her and Congressman Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) during their 2018 visit to the US-Mexico border. Senator Rosen and Congressman Carbajal traveled together to Texas to visit a facility housing unaccompanied immigrant minors in Tornillo and U.S. Custom and Border Protection’s Paso del Norte Processing Center in El Paso. Personnel from DHS and the Department of Health & Human Services assured them that their agencies had the information and resources needed to reunite separated migrant families.
Rosen is a co-sponsor of the Keep Families Together Act, which would ensure that the federal government carries out immigration procedures in the best interest of detained children.
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