The Department of Health and Human Services is touting its handling of last summer’s massive influx of unaccompanied alien children in an end-of-year report, despite the fact that its own failures worsened the situation.
Nearly 58,000 unaccompanied alien children arrived before the end of fiscal year 2014, almost as many as arrived in the past five years combined, according to the report from HHS’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
“ORR and its partners worked tirelessly throughout the summer influx, addressing emergent medical issues and implementing protocols to prevent backlogs in placements, to ensure that the children received appropriate medical screening and care,” the report says. “Faced with unprecedented numbers of children arriving at [Department of Homeland Security] border patrol stations faster than space could be found in the network to accommodate them, the team worked tirelessly and creatively around the clock to clear the backlogs at over-crowded border patrol stations, and move the children quickly and safely into appropriate shelter beds.”
But, as Border Patrol agents told NRO last summer, poor medical screening led to agents falling ill with scabies and one who contracted bacterial pneumonia. One whistle-blowing Border Patrol agent reported that the federal government disregarded his repeated warnings about the public-health risks posed by the illegal immigrants. That agent, Ron Zermeno, was later disciplined for speaking to the press.
ORR’s report describes the summer surge as “unanticipated,” but, as NRO previously reported, the government appears to have known of the influx months in advance. In total, ORR’s report says, the government placed the approximately 58,000 children into 124 facilities throughout 15 states. The report says it’s difficult to know how many unaccompanied alien children will arrive this year, but that ORR staff has already begun preparing.