A top Health and Human Services Department official responsible for the release of thousands of unaccompanied alien children into communities across the country announced his resignation Tuesday without much notice. Eskinder Negash, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversaw the placement of more than 53,000 illegal immigrant children in all 50 states in fiscal year 2014, announced his resignation on Tuesday.
The announcement of Negash’s resignation comes one day before a House Judiciary Committee hearing on how the release of unaccompanied alien children who flooded across the border in large numbers this summer has impacted local communities.
In his statement, Negash provided a list of personal accomplishments, including his office’s decision to release across the country 95 percent of the unaccompanied alien children served by HHS. Local communities are bearing the costs of caring for the illegal minors, and plenty of them are feeling serious strain, as NR reported recently. The cost of just educating the unaccompanied alien children could exceed $761 million, according to the Federation for American Immigration Reform.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement did not respond to NRO’s requests for comment about Negash’s resignation or the timing of his announcement. His resignation statement, in which he wrote that he does not view himself as a political man and called his resignation a “difficult decision,” did not otherwise explain his decision to resign.
The crisis Negash handled began with the more than 68,000 unaccompanied alien children who crossed America’s southern border in Fiscal Year 2014, mostly from Central America. At the border, they received flawed medical screening from federal officials, which allowed contagious illnesses to spread. Soon after, the Department of Homeland Security released the minors into custody of HHS, Negash’s department, which placed them with family members, friends, or other sponsors across the country.
In advance of Wednesday’s hearing on the children’s impact on local communities, House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R., Va.) released a statement criticizing President Obama’s “self-made border crisis.”
“As tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors from Central America have flooded our borders, the Obama administration has refused to take the steps necessary to return them home quickly and safely,” Goodlatte said. “Because there is no procedure in place to notify state governments when these minors are dropped off, states have been forced to pick up the pieces and clean up the Obama Administration’s mess.”
Negash will remain as director until his resignation takes effect on January 31, 2015.