The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has custody of over 2000 children who were separated from their parents after crossing the border illegally since May. The president issued an Executive Order on June 20 to end the practice of separating children and their families. See The Executive Order Trump Claims Will End Family Separation, Explained (Vox, 6/21/18). T
The exact procedures by which children will be reunited with their families are still not clear, however. The Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin on June 23 — Fact Sheet: Zero-Tolerance Prosecution and Family Reunification – which outlines some of the steps, and reportedly the administration has created an “unaccompanied children reunification task force” to carry out the reunification process. See also Trump Will Reunite Separated Families — But Only If They Agree to Deportation (Vox, 6/25/18).
Democrats in the House and Senate have called for committee hearings, and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) has asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the administration’s reunification efforts. On June 29, Energy & Commerce Committee Republicans sent a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding its Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) and the management, treatment, and reunification of unaccompanied alien children. The HHS Inspector General will be investigating the health and safety conditions at the agency’s shelters for unaccompanied migrant children.
On June 26, a federal court ordered the reunification of families. See also Trump Administration Says It Won’t Return Children to Immigrant Parents in Custody, But a Judge Orders Families Be Reunited (Los Angeles Times, 6/26/18)
On June 27, the House failed to pass an immigration bill. (See below.)
Here are some reports about the potential health-related consequences of the family-separation policy:
- 10-Year-Old Migrant Girl With Down Syndrome Separated From Family: Report (The Hill, 6/19/18)
- Doctors Say Migrant Children Separated From Their Parents Will Face Lasting Ills (Politico, 6/26/18)
- Key Health Implications of Separation of Families at the Border (as of June 27, 2018) (Kaiser Family Foundation, 6/27/18)
- Immigrant Families Placed In Detention Centers Face Health Care Challenges (Kaiser Health News, 7/2/18)
A related article: Fearing Deportation, Immigrant Parents Are Opting out of Health Benefits for Kids (Kaiser Health News, 6/26/18)