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Sexual abuse, assault run rampant through $1.6 billion HHS program for illegal immigrants

Watchdog report details 761 instances of inappropriate sexual behavior occurring at taxpayer funded facilities.

Golden Horseshoe
Golden Horseshoe
(Just the News)
Updated: June 28, 2020 - 7:16am

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

The Golden Horseshoe is a weekly designation from Just the News intended to highlight egregious examples of wasteful taxpayer spending by the government. The ward is named for the horseshoe-shaped toilet seats for military airplanes that cost the Pentagon a whopping $640 each back in the 1980s. 

This week, our award is going to the Department of Health and Human Services for spending $1.6 billion on a program to house and protect unauthorized minors rescued from violent Central American countries, but failing to protect those minors from sexual misconduct at U.S. government facilities.

The Unoccupied Alien Children Program (UAC) is designed to serve minors who have no lawful immigration status in the United States and do not have a parent or legal guardian available to provide care and physical custody. It is a program within HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement. The UAC program receives upwards of $1.5 billion in federal taxpayer dollars every year and cares for about 50,000 minors.

An HHS inspector general report from June of this year, details the abuses taking place in 45 of these 170 state-licensed care facilities funded through the UAC program to take care of the minors when they arrive from foreign countries. Some of the results of the inspector general investigation led to criminal convictions of facility employees.

The investigation, which took place over a six-month period in early 2018 yielded 761 instances of inappropriate sexual behavior, sexual harassment, or sexual abuse.

Furthermore, the UAC program does not report or track, in any meaningful way, incidents of sexual abuse or assault. One employee of a taxpayer-funded facility was convicted of sexually abusing seven minors, although, the great majority of the reported incidents involved contact between minors, as opposed to between staffers and minors.

“Important information about facilities’ actions are not systematically collected to help ORR determine whether facilities responded appropriately to incidents," the report found. "The system does not effectively capture information in a way that allows for efficient identification of issues that require immediate attention and analysis to detect concerning trends."

This is not HHS’s first serious transgression when it comes to their UAC program. During the Obama administration, when tens of thousands of underage, unauthorized individuals were brought to the United States, the agency put thousands of minors in abusive homes. Having fled violence in Central America, some of them were thrown back into the worlds of human trafficking and sexual exploitation.