Inspector: Government does not adequately scrutinize employees caring for unaccompanied foreign minors

Fair Take | May 2023

On May 4, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released another scathing report on the mismanagement of the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program by the Office of Refugee and Resettlement (ORR). Announced. The report, titled “Refugee and Resettlement Service Needs to Improve Inbound Background Check Practices,” specifically considers the alarming and record increase in the number of unaccompanied children. focus on employee background checks and screening procedures. our southern border.

In short, the OIG found that ORR had not “performed or documented all necessary background checks” on all its employees or conducted them in a timely manner. “The ORR did not require the transportation service contractors we considered to conduct background checks on their employees as required by the ORR minimum standards,” the Secretary wrote. increase.

The report is another blow to the Biden administration and another strong criticism of the mismanagement of the unaccompanied alien children program. To understand the OIG findings, one must consider the unprecedented number of children coming into the country without parents, legal guardians, or anyone who can assume custody and care for them. I have. In fiscal 2022 alone, he encountered nearly 150,000 unaccompanied children at the Southwest border.

The ORR, which is responsible for supervising unaccompanied foreign children, has established facilities to temporarily house the children until they can be placed with a sponsor. It has the authority to enter into cooperation agreements with associations. Their network includes several types of facilities, including shelters, temporary foster care, long-term foster care, and staff safe facilities. During surges, the ORR has set up inflow care facilities (ICFs) or emergency reception sites (IESs) to ensure there are enough beds to accommodate children along the border.

An OIG study examined several of these facilities and conducted site visits in May and June 2021. The OIG report states:[a]Required background checks were performed by reviewing 259 employee background checks across 11 sites and reviewing 89 in-depth federal employee background checks across 10 EISs Confirmed. The OIG also reviewed background checks of a sample of his 10 drivers and his 20 transport professionals associated with ORR contractors.

The OIG found that ORR “failed to conduct or document all necessary background checks or to conduct checks in a timely manner.” Specifically, we found that:

  1. The ORR did not require the reviewed transportation service contractors to conduct background checks on their employees, as required by the ORR’s minimum standards.
  2. The ORR was not consistent with issuing exemptions from FBI fingerprint testing and child abuse and neglect testing for emergency reception site employees.
  3. Public records checks used by emergency reception sites may not be reliable.and
  4. Several emergency water intake sites did not have safe access to facilities.

In one of its footnotes, the OIG states:[s]Even background checks of sampled employees included offenses that made the employee unsuitable for working with children in a childcare setting. ”

Background checks are mandatory because, as the OIG states, “it is an important component of the screening process for employees working with children.” OIG said:[f]Federal regulations prohibit ORR care provider facilities from hiring or engaging individuals in direct contact with children if the applicant has engaged in sexual abuse, sexual harassment, or any type of inappropriate sexual conduct. I’m here. Additionally, ORR guidance requires facilities to “complete” these required background checks before hiring staff, contractors, and volunteers.

Although the OIG only examined a sample of employees and contractors, lax screening is a serious problem that cannot be ignored. Unaccompanied children in the care of the government are likely to surge after President Biden ends his May 11th Title 42 banishment powers, as well as a well-scrutinized employee It is important to be taken care of by

There are several types of background checks performed on federal employees and contractors. i.e. something like:

  • Public Records Check – A name-based check that searches public records for a person’s criminal record.
  • FBI Fingerprint Check – This check pulls data reported to the FBI from various federal, state and local jurisdictions.
  • Child Abuse and Neglect (CA/N) Checks – Checks to determine if an individual has been reported to have committed child abuse or neglect in a particular state or if there is a record of evidence of child abuse. registry.
  • Department of Justice (DOJ) Sex Offender Registry Check – A name-based check of public websites providing access to sex offender registries in 50 states, the District of Columbia, US Territories, and Indian Countries.
  • State Criminal History Repository Check – This check determines whether an individual has been convicted of a sex offense, a crime involving a child victim, or a drug felony in the state.

The OIG not only explained the details of the failure, but also provided some recommendations. Specifically, the OIG recommends:

  • Ensure that required background checks are conducted on current employees who have not been checked.
  • Clarify and reissue guidance.
  • Include a review of each facility’s compliance as part of ORR’s regular site visit monitoring.and
  • Ensure that future rewards and sub-rewards for services involving children include detailed information about any required background checks.

While the agency agreed with the OIG’s recommendations and described the actions it took to address its findings, it remains to be seen whether the Biden administration will continue to learn from the HHS Inspector General and work to clean up the program. not.

This report is the Inspector General’s ongoing effort to review the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. To date, the OIG has audited and evaluated this program several times. As stated in the report, the OIG is currently reviewing ORR’s placement and transfer of children and their safe and efficient release to sponsors. FAIR looks forward to his continued OIG work and findings related to the programme.

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