Politics

EXCLUSIVE: Texas Rep. Lance Gooden Demands Answers From HHS Over Unaccompanied Alien Children

Daily Caller Obtained Photo Lance Gooden/Lance Gooden Office

Henry Rodgers Senior Congressional Correspondent
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Republican Texas Rep. Lance Gooden sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding answers to a list of questions regarding the process of releasing Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) to sponsors or family members.

Gooden sent the letter, obtained by the Daily Caller, to HHS on Feb. 16 but has yet to receive a response from the department. In the letter, Gooden claims there has been a 362% increase in UACs at the border from 2020. He also mentioned that close to 25% of human trafficking victims for both forced labor and sex trafficking are children. In 2021, there were 146,925 encounters involving UACs at the border.

“During a 2-month period, ICE HIS identified 316 fraudulent family units, 599 fraudulent documents, and presented 629 individuals for criminal violations at just two locations along the southwest border. Additionally, in May 2019, a pilot program of voluntary rapid DNA testing for family units found 19% of units tested proved not to be the parent of the child with whom they arrived,” Gooden said in the letter.

“I am concerned that fraud surrounding UAC sponsorship is severe due to your department’s lackluster policies and procedures to verify a sponsor’s identity and relationship to the child. Children apprehended, transported, and processed alone are still not safe from human traffickers, who may pose as sponsors once migrant children are flown throughout the country by the federal government. To ensure the record number of children at our southern border are safe and placed with properly vetted sponsors throughout the country, this Administration must provide more transparency into the policies and procedures surrounding UACs,” he added.

He then asked for responses to a number of questions and called for information from the HHS regarding UACs and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

READ THE LETTER HERE: 

(DAILY CALLER OBTAINED) — … by Henry Rodgers

Gooden has continued to press the Biden administration about the ongoing border crisis. Gooden and a group of House Republicans sent a letter in November to Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Administrator David Pekoske demanding answers as to why migrants are being allowed to fly without proper identification. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Rep. Lance Gooden To Send Letter To White House Urging Biden To Recognize Border Crisis)

The Texas Republican sent a letter in March 2021 to President Joe Biden urging him to recognize the crisis on the southern border and to reinstate the Trump administration’s national emergency concerning our southern border. He also introduced legislation in December that would prevent taxpayer funds from being used to facilitate mass migration into the United States. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Republicans Vying To Prevent United Nations From Giving Money To Migrants Illegally Entering US)

“The Biden administration’s failure to address anything related to the border crisis raises serious questions about their commitment to protecting unaccompanied minors from human trafficking and abuse. It is time for HHS to be transparent with Congress so we can ensure these children are placed with properly vetted sponsors, not criminal traffickers or cartel affiliates,” Gooden told the Daily Caller after sending the letter.

The Daily Caller contacted HHS about Gooden’s letter to which they did not immediately respond.