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  /  News   /  Manchin leads push to overturn Biden rule on unaccompanied migrant children

Manchin leads push to overturn Biden rule on unaccompanied migrant children

Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), who last week left the Democratic Party to become an independent, is leading 45 of his Senate Republican colleagues on a resolution to overturn a Biden administration rule on the care of unaccompanied migrant children.

“We have a crisis at our southern border and its human impacts are absolutely devastating. I have repeatedly called on President Biden to use his executive powers to shut it down and address the cycles of exploitation that illegal immigration empowers. Instead, the Administration is allowing rules like this one to jeopardize the safety of migrant children and trust them in the hands of unvetted sponsors,” Manchin said in a statement.

Manchin says the rule put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would allow for lax or optional vetting of sponsors for the children and would not require a sponsor’s criminal history, including drug abuse, abuse or neglect, to be considered as necessarily disqualifying child welfare concerns.

Manchin’s office said the administration’s new rule would not require a sponsor to share their immigration status with law enforcement and would implement “weak standards” for postrelease home studies to determine a child migrant’s welfare while in the custody of the sponsor.

Manchin also objects to restrictions on whistleblowers’ rights to disclose to Congress and the Health and Human Services inspector general information about misconduct in the program.

When immigration authorities apprehend a child who enters the country without a parent or legal guardian, they transfer the child to the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement until that child is released to a sponsor, who is usually a family member, to wait for court proceedings, according to HHS.

Sponsors must be found suitable to provide for a child’s well-being, and all sponsors must pass background checks.

In announcing the rule in April, HHS officials touted it as an improvement on the 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement by setting improved standards for placement and release of unaccompanied children, emergency and influx operations, transportation and monitoring requirements.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said it “underscores HHS’ unwavering commitment to the health, safety, and welfare of unaccompanied children in our care.”

“By enhancing the legal framework governing the UC Program, we set clear standards for the care and treatment of unaccompanied children in ORR’s custody and the support they receive as they transition into new communities,” he added.

Manchin can bring the resolution to Congressional Review Act and force a vote regardless of colleagues’ objections. It cannot be filibustered.

The resolution would need to be passed by both the Senate and House and signed by the president to overturn the administration’s new rule.