HHS: Congressional visits to migrants wasting resources

Author: Associated Press - July 5, 2018 - Updated: July 5, 2018

Immigrant children play outside a former Job Corps site that now houses them on June 18 in Homestead, Fla. It is not known if the children crossed the border as unaccompanied minors or were separated from family members. Wrenching scenes of migrant children being separated from their parents at the southern border are roiling campaigns ahead of midterm elections, emboldening Democrats on the often-fraught issue of immigration. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration says lawmakers’ visits to migrant children in federal shelters are wasting staff resources that could be used to help connect kids and parents.

But Democrats say lawmakers should be granted immediate access to shelters housing about 12,000 migrant children, including about 2,000 who have been separated from their parents as a result of President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy at the border.

Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation, including Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette and Republican Rep. Mike Coffman, recently visited the U.S. border to get a firsthand view of conditions affecting migrant children.

In a letter Tuesday to leaders of the Senate and House judiciary committees, the Health and Human Services Department says nearly 500 work hours have been devoted to arranging visits for more than 70 lawmakers.

The letter says, “Many of these hours would otherwise have been spent … verifying parental relationships.”

HHS is asking lawmakers to submit visit requests two weeks in advance.

Associated Press

Associated Press