June 26, 2019

Harris, Senators: Federal Contractors in Charge of Migrant Children Must be Investigated

Senators Urge HHS and GAO To Examine Potential Breach of Contract By Companies After Reports of Hungry, Sick, Dirty Children in Custody

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Wednesday joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and 6 of their colleagues in calling for the federal government to investigate federal contractors in charge of migrant children who the government has detained after children crossed the U.S. southern border. The letters to the Government Accountability Office and the suspension and debarment official and inspector general and at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services were sent after disturbing reports of hungry, sick, and dirty children being held in federal contractor facilities near the border.

Based on recent reports, there is significant evidence that some federal contractors and grantees have not provided adequate accommodations for children in line with legal and contractual requirements,” the senators wrote. “In one such report, children in a facility near El Paso, Texas were given inadequate food, water, and sanitation. Further, it was reported that older children were taking care of infants and that there was an outbreak of the flu due to improper medical care. These news reports build on previous reports from the Office of Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services indicating that many of the federal contractors and grantees charged with the care of migrant children, both by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Homeland Security, have not complied with all applicable federal and state policies and requirements. This is especially troubling given that the children in their care are often young and unable to advocate for their interests.”

In addition to Harris and Schatz, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Robert Casey (D-PA).  

All three letters asked for government officials to decide if federal contractors and grantees are in breach of contractual obligations or federal regulations and should therefore face financial consequences.

For a PDF copy of the letters, click here.