Granger Opening Statement During Hearing on the Administration’s Unaccompanied Children Program
House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger gave the following opening statement during the Committee's hearing on the Administration’s Unaccompanied Children Program:
"I would like to thank Chairwoman Delauro and Ranking Member Cole, who also serves as the Vice Ranking Member for the Full Committee, for holding this hearing today.
"The treatment of children entering our country unaccompanied by an adult is one that concerns all of us.
"I have been engaged on this issue since 2014 when our country experienced an unprecedented surge in the number of unaccompanied children, mostly teenagers, coming across our southern border.
"At the time, I was Chair of the State and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and the Speaker of the House asked me to lead a congressional task force to identify the root causes of the problem and recommend solutions.
"We took several trips to the southern border, as well as to countries in Central America to talk to their leaders firsthand.
"Our recommendation was that we should keep these children near the border, determine where they came from and try to reconnect them with their families.
"We did not recommend sending them all across the United States in the care of sponsors. We wanted them reunited with their families as soon as possible.
"Unfortunately, the violence and hopelessness driving parents to send their children on the dangerous journey to the United States has not disappeared since then. But, it also did not begin with this Administration.
"The number of border crossings by Central American youth continues to create tremendous challenges for both border enforcement officials and the Department of Health and Human Services, who has the responsibility of caring for most of these children after they enter the country.
"It is unfortunate that our government has not always done right by these children.
"For example, we learned that officials in the previous administration placed children with sponsors in central Ohio who were later discovered to be human traffickers using forced child labor.
"This is unacceptable, and we must work together to help ensure that every child placed in the custody of the United States government is treated humanely and with compassion.
"This hearing should be an opportunity for all of us to learn the facts, get the data, and help improve program operations in order to better protect children.
"We have proven that we can work across the aisle on difficult issues.
"Just two weeks ago, we came together to produce a conference report funding the Department of Homeland Security and the remaining bills for fiscal year 2019.
"I know we can continue to rise above our partisan divisions and solve even the most difficult problems facing our country.
"I look forward to hearing from the witnesses today and working with members of the subcommittee on this important issue."