House Democrats on Wednesday dismissed the need for an investigation into the health and safety of the thousands of unaccompanied children who cross the southwestern U.S. border each month.
Republicans called up a resolution of inquiry asking for a broad range of information from the Biden administration about these children, a response to the soaring number of unaccompanied children encountered at the border under President Biden.
In fiscal year 2021, more than 146,000 were spotted by border officers, and 140,000 have been encountered this year, more than four times higher than the 33,000 in fiscal year 2020.
But Democrats rejected the resolution and said it’s not needed because the Department of Homeland Security has been reporting information about unaccompanied children and adults who cross the border.
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"This resolution is completely unnecessary. The minority has had no problem obtaining briefings or information on this issue," said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.
Republicans dismissed that opinion and accused Democrats of trying to shield President Biden from accountability on the border. Rep. Tom Massie, R-Ky., said Democrats were only interested in the safety of children when Donald Trump was president.
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"During the Trump administration, committee Democrats held multiple hearings attacking the administration for overcrowded conditions caused by unaccompanied children coming across the southwest border," Massie said. "But since President Biden took office, these same Democrats have been silent about the far-worse conditions and the Biden administration’s lack of concern with placement of these children with sponsors in the U.S."
Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., accused the Biden administration of an "institutional lack of candor."
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"The administration has not been forthcoming about the circumstances about the border generally and certainly not concerning the handling of UACs [unaccompanied alien children]," Bishop said. "They’ve been flown about the country in the dark of night, there have been all sorts of irregular and housing decisions made that have been discovered by media from time to time. But Congress can’t learn of them. We’ve had hard times since the beginning of the Biden administration obtaining quantification of information. There have been delays of reports that are regularly published by DHS."
The Republican resolution asked the Biden administration for all documents related to the health and welfare of unaccompanied children, including the rate of COVID infection, all current policies on the placement of these children with a sponsor, the number placed with sponsors who did not pass a background check, the number not placed with sponsors and all information on the abuse of children.
Resolutions of inquiry are privileged and must be considered by House committees. But because Democrats opposed the resolution on unaccompanied children, they voted it out of the House Judiciary Committee with an "adverse report," signaling their opposition to it.