The Biden administration has waived a requirement that individuals caring for unaccompanied child migrants at the United States-Mexico border pass an FBI background check, according to a Sunday report from The Associated Press.
Sunday, the outlet reported that, in order to quickly staff the dozens of temporary Health and Human Services-run sites holding the thousands of child migrants crossing the border, the Biden administration has waived mandatory FBI checks for caregivers.
The “emergency sites don’t have to be licensed by state authorities or provide the same services as permanent HHS facilities. They also cost far more, an estimated $775 per child per day,” the AP reported. “And to staff the sites quickly, the Biden administration has waived vetting procedures intended to protect minors from potential harm.”
“Staff and volunteers directly caring for children at new emergency sites don’t have to undergo FBI fingerprint checks, which use criminal databases not accessible to the public and can overcome someone changing their name or using a false identity,” the outlet added, noting that HHS is now only requiring that caregivers “pass public record criminal background checks.” The AP suggests that those checks are not exhaustive, piling a new issue on a situation that is already raising health and welfare concerns.
“Safety concerns have already been raised about the Midland camp. One official working there noted a lack of new clothes and caseworkers when teenagers initially arrived, and state regulators last week warned that the water on-site may not be safe, forcing U.S. authorities to give teens bottles until they could arrange for water deliveries,” the outlet noted.
The Biden administration is believed to have around 15,000 unaccompanied minors in federal custody awaiting processing and release. Many are being held for longer than the 72-hour limit put in place by immigration courts.
Texas Governor Greg Abbot says he is putting together a task force to ensure child migrant welfare in his state, but that the Biden administration was actively preventing Texas authorities from visiting and evaluating the temporary detention facilities holding the thousands of child migrants who have crossed the border in recent weeks. He told Fox News that his health department has not been allowed to probe reports of a COVID-19 outbreak, or to follow up on concerns that some children may have been trafficked.
“The Biden administration is not being transparent with either the governor of Texas or the Texas Department of State Health Services,” Abbott told Fox News. “We need to know what the health situation of these kids are. We need to know if they’ve been exposed to variants of COVID.”
“Our law enforcement … they need to do their job,” Abbott said Wednesday night. “Part of their job is making sure they track down and prosecute anybody involved in smuggling. Once they get over to Texas, they are still involved with coyotes and smugglers. We do have the ability to put them behind bars …[but the] Biden administration is not letting us gain access to that information so that we can arrest and prosecute those that are assisting this immigration process.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, who was put in charge of the ongoing crisis at the border last week, has yet to speak on conditions in the child migrant detention facilities despite being very vocal about child migrant welfare during the Trump administration.
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Author: Emily Zanotti