Committee Democrats Demand Answers Regarding Unaccompanied Minors in Administration’s Custody

WASHINGTON – All 17 Committee on the Education and the Workforce Democrats sent a letter today to the Trump administration demanding answers to several detailed and urgent questions about the health, safety, and educational services provided to unaccompanied minors forcibly separated from their parents at the border. The letter, sent to the department secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (ED), Homeland Security (DHS), and Justice (DOJ), came after President Donald Trump issued an executive order that did not remedy the administration’s cruel “zero tolerance” policy, which left thousands of children, including infants and toddlers, unaccompanied and without sufficient care.

“Unanswered questions remain about the health and safety of these separated children, including trauma caused by family separation, the provision of general and special education services, and the process for family reunification,” the members wrote in the letter. “Mounting evidence and conflicting statements from administration officials raise serious concerns regarding the administration’s capacity and willingness to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements regarding the rights, remedies, and services for these children while in the custody of care provider facilities (CPF) under contract or cooperative agreement with HHS’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).”

Committee Democrats asked the departments to explain their plan to reunite families already separated at the border, which the president did not address in last week’s executive order. Democrats also demanded evidence of actions taken by the departments to ensure that unaccompanied minors, including infants and toddlers and minors with disabilities, have access to the care and services they are required to receive.

The broad scope of the Committee’s letter reflects the astonishing number of unanswered questions about the administration’s treatment of unaccompanied minors who were forcibly removed from their parents. The questions range from the administration’s compliance with child welfare standards at so-called “tender age” facilities, to its capacity to meet the requirement that unaccompanied minors receive an educational assessment within 72 hours, six hours of basic instruction each weekday, and other services aligned to each child’s individual needs. 

Ranking Member Bobby Scott (VA-03), Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Vice Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), also sent a letter to Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (NC-05), requesting a hearing to fulfill the committee’s oversight responsibilities on this important issue.

A fact sheet outlining the Committee’s questions for the Trump administration is available here.