June 06, 2024

Manchin Leads Bipartisan Effort To Overturn Biden Administration Rule Endangering Unaccompanied Migrant Children

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (I-WV) led 45 of his colleagues in introducing a bipartisan Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval to overturn a final rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that endangers the safety and wellbeing of unaccompanied migrant children. The CRA would force HHS to make meaningful reforms to its Unaccompanied Children (UC) program, which spends billions of taxpayer dollars to enforce its negligent policies.

“We have a crisis at our southern border and its human impacts are absolutely devastating. I have repeatedly called on President Biden to use his executive powers to shut it down and address the cycles of exploitation that illegal immigration empowers. Instead, the Administration is allowing rules like this one to jeopardize the safety of migrant children and trust them in the hands of unvetted sponsors, all while spending billions of taxpayer dollars to enforce the flawed program. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan resolution to overturn the negligent rule and I encourage all of my colleagues to join our effort to protect unaccompanied children and promote critically-needed accountability of government spending,” said Senator Manchin.

The UC program is intended to place unaccompanied migrant children who enter the country illegally with trusted adult sponsors in the U.S. The federal government pays contractors and grantees billions of taxpayer dollars to operate the UC program and enforce its policies. Unfortunately, the HHS rule, which was finalized in April of this year, codified several harmful practices, including:

  • Lax or optional sponsor vetting;
  • Refusal to consider a sponsor’s criminal record, including illegal drug use, history of abuse or neglect, or other necessarily disqualifying child welfare concerns;  
  • Refusal to share a sponsor’s immigration status with law enforcement; 
  • Weak standards for post-release home studies to determine a child’s status or safety once in the custody of a sponsor; and
  • Restrictions on whistleblowers’ rights to disclose to Congress and the HHS Inspector General (IG) information on wrongdoing and misconduct in the program.  

Senator Manchin was joined by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Budd (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jim Risch (R-ID), Eric Schmitt (R-MO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mike Braun (R-IN), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), John Kennedy (R-LA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Thom Tillis (R-NC), J.D. Vance (R-OH), Todd Young (R-IN), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Roger Marshall (R-KS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tom Cotton (R-AK), Rick Scott (R-FL), John Hoeven (R-ND), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), James Lankford (R-OK), Katie Britt (R-AL), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Mike Rounds (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), John Boozman (R-AK), and Tim Scott (R-SC).

The full text of the resolution is available here.