Walorski continues hammering HHS on repercussions of unaccompanied children at border

Rep. Jackie Walorski

With America’s southern border crisis intensifying, U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) is pushing to get answers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which has been charged with overseeing the surge of unaccompanied migrant children.

During a June 8 U.S. House Ways and Means Committee hearing held on the proposed HHS fiscal year 2022 budget, Rep. Walorski pressed HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on recent local news reports from Washington State and Texas about American foster youth being displaced and forced to vacate their residences in order to make room for unaccompanied migrant children coming to the United States, according to the congresswoman’s office.

“This is extremely alarming, especially given the already limited availability of more permanent placements for foster children,” said Rep. Walorski during the hearing.

“The Biden administration has a responsibility to acknowledge that what we are seeing at the southern border is indeed a crisis, and that its misguided policies are to blame,” she told the secretary. “The Biden administration also has a duty to address the downstream effects of the current border crisis.”

In related action, Rep. Walorski earlier this month joined three other Republicans in calling on Secretary Becerra to provide transparency on the impact of the border crisis on U.S. foster youth.

“New information has come to light that raises additional concerns about how the Administration is handling the crisis at our southern border and the influx of unaccompanied children that have crossed the border this year,” wrote Rep. Walorski and her colleagues in a June 4 letter sent to Becerra in which they cited press reports indicating that HHS has diverted about $2.1 billion allocated by Congress for other health initiatives to cover the cost of caring for unaccompanied children at the border this year.

“This massive cost demonstrates the expense involved in caring for approximately 18,000 unaccompanied children, illustrates the scope of the crisis at the border, and raises serious concerns about the damage done to the programs for which the money was initially allocated,” wrote the members, who also included U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA).

In their letter, Rep. Walorski and the lawmakers requested data and posed several questions for Becerra, including how HHS would make up for the diverted funds.