After reports of thousands of instances of alleged abuse, the Trump team is stonewalling a Congressional inquiry.
Officials in the Trump administration are refusing to meet with members of Congress to discuss serious allegations of sexual abuse of migrant children.
The facilities where abuse has been alleged to take place are supervised by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The current HHS secretary, nominated by Trump, is Alex Azar.
HHS' own data shows that the department has received 4,500 allegations of sexual abuse and harassment since 2015. Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) revealed the data at a February hearing.
"Together these documents detail an environment of systemic sexual assault by staff on unaccompanied children," Deutch said.
Despite the horrific information, HHS officials won't meet with Congress. Instead, HHS is making the excuse that they want a correction and an apology from Deutch because he referred to the alleged predators as "staff" when they were contract employees of the shelters in question.
At the initial hearing, Deutch clarified his statement and noted, "It doesn't make what happened any less horrific."
The bottom line is that migrant children were harmed while in U.S. custody, and the government is ultimately responsible for their treatment whether the perpetrators were staff or contractors.
The HHS argument comes across as a disingenuous dodge and an attempt to avoid oversight. The Trump administration (aided by its Republican allies in Congress) have struck out against attempts by Congress to provide oversight.
The Trump administration detained children, often in cages, after it decided to shift policy from previous administrations and prosecute all border crossers.
Now that same administration, faced with the possibility that those children are being preyed upon, is avoiding oversight, investigation, and responsibility.
Azar's department already has a track record of simply not caring about the fates of these children, including losing records about their whereabouts after they were taken away from their parents.
It is a state of affairs that recently led Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), chair of the House Oversight Committee, to describe the administration's actions as "government-funded child abuse."
Children are being hurt and not enough is being done to protect them. Trump's team is not helping the children while letting the would-be abusers get away with their crimes.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.