Government Watchdog To Review Detention Centers Housing Migrant Children

The inspection will examine the health and safety of the facilities housing about 12,000 children.

The internal watchdog at the agency responsible for housing migrant children announced a plan to review the detention centers where they’re kept. 

“Specifically, this review will focus on a variety of safety- and health-related issues such as employee background screening, employees’ clinical skills and training, identification and response to incidents of harm, and facility security,” the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General said Wednesday.

The OIG noted the need to ensure the health and safety of children within the facilities, especially at a time when they’re dealing with an influx of arrivals. Of the approximately 12,000 children in the care of HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement, more than 2,000 remain separated from their parents as part of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, HHS said Wednesday. 

The inspector general’s probe will not focus on specific cases of mistreatment as those will be investigated separately, the Associated Press reported. The announcement happened on the same day that 41 Democratic senators wrote a letter to HHS calling for an inspection. 

A judge ordered this week that families split up at the border be reunited within 30 days. The administration began the reunification process after President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking family separations, saying over the weekend that it had brought more than 500 children back together with their parents.

Yet information about the treatment children receive within the ORR centers has remained opaque, and HHS officials refused to confirm or deny whether they were still receiving children as a result of the separations policy. 

The facilities have come under scrutiny as more information comes out about them. Official government images showed children sleeping in cage-like structures and children can be heard sobbing for their parents in leaked audio.



Immigrant Families At The U.S.-Mexico Border