Top House committee ramps up pressure on HHS chief Becerra to testify over child migrant crisis

First appearance of Fox: Republicans on House main committees are asking Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to testify about reports of the ongoing crisis and increased exploitation of child immigrants at the southern border, and if he refuses, they will be asked to provide “another It warns that it may pursue the road.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Kathy McMorris Rogers and Subcommittee Oversight and Investigations Chair H. Morgan Griffiths initially requested Mr. Becerra to attend the subcommittee hearings in March. was

In a letter to Becerra, lawmakers said they had worked “in good faith” to get him to testify before the subcommittee in May after he announced his intention to testify at another hearing. However, it said staff from the Department of Health and Human Services suggested Mr Becerra was traveling. After May, the appearance was postponed to June.

Lawmakers said they were “cautiously optimistic” before the May 17 staff convocation, but that things had changed since then.

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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra testifies before the Senate Finance Committee on the proposed 2024 budget at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., March 22, 2023. (Photo: Stephanie Reynolds/AFP) (Photo: Stephanie Reynolds/AFP) via Getty Images)

“However, after the May 17 call, the subcommittee is questioning whether you were willing to testify voluntarily. “The chief cabinet secretary is required to appear before the subcommittee and therefore, regardless of the scope of the hearing, you will not appear voluntarily,” the letter said. has been written.

The subcommittee sought to respond to the change by proposing a full committee hearing, but the committee first held hearings with lower-ranking officials before Mr. Becerra could consider his testimony, according to the letter. The adjustment was denied by officials.

“This is not how a constitutionally mandated surveillance process works.” Republicans say. “The committee can decide which witnesses they want to testify.”

As the United States continues its third year of dealing with the immigration crisis on its southern border, Mr. Becerra is being called upon. Although the main agency dealing with the immigration surge is the Department of Homeland Security, unaccompanied minors encountered by Border Patrol are transferred to HHS custody, at which point the authorities seek their sponsors (usually relatives). or parents).

According to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics, the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) arriving at the border will increase from 33,239 in 2020 to more than 146,000 in 2021. , which will increase to more than 152,000 in 2022. In 2023, over 70,000 of her UACs were encountered.

The government has been hit by numerous New York Times reports detailing an increase in child exploitation, in some cases children are forced to work as laborers to repay smuggling costs. This has raised concerns that the United States is involved in child trafficking by transferring children to sponsors.

The Times reported on officials. reported as ignored While there were signs of an “explosive” increase in the child labor force, staff argued that Becerra pushed for the dismissal of minors more quickly.

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“If Henry Ford had witnessed this in his factory, he would never have been rich or famous,” the Times reportedly told staff. “This is not an assembly line method.”

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In March, Becerra refuted claims that authorities had lost contact with 85,000 minors, and said HHS authorities were restricted by Congress.

“Congress has given us certain powers. Our power ends when we find the right sponsor to put the child in. has no obligation to follow up,” he said.

Energy and Commerce Commission lawmakers said the final consideration for Mr. Becerra is for him to appear in court on June 13 or 14 to examine HHS’ role in the crisis.


“If you do not choose one of the above dates, the Commission may consider other means of securing from you the testimony necessary to fulfill its constitutional obligation to oversee the operation of these programs. We will have to,” they said.

An aide to the commission told Fox News Digital that those measures included the possibility of subpoenas. Lawmakers have until May 31 to respond.

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