Grassley demands answers about unaccompanied minors

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell has failed to answer questions on how taxpayer money is being spent to address the influx of illegal immigrant children detained along the U.S.-Mexico border. 

“If Congress is going to appropriate funding for the department to provide care and custody for this vulnerable population, it deserves to know how taxpayer dollars are going to be spent,” Grassley wrote in a letter sent to Burwell over the weekend.

Thousands of unaccompanied minors from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala are now in HHS custody awaiting immigration hearings after fleeing their violent home countries.

The administration has asked for $3.7 billion to provide legal services and temporarily house and feed the children. The House passed legislation before the August recess that provided more than $600 million but included limitations on President Obama’s executive orders on immigration policy.

The Senate failed to pass a bill before leaving. Grassley said it shouldn’t act until his questions are answered about how the money would be spent and contracts related to the care of the children.

Grassley said he had sent two previous letters and is still waiting for answers more than six weeks later. 

“It has been over six weeks since the initial request for information and over one month since the previous letter was sent,” Grassley wrote. “I have received neither answers nor responsive documents.”

Grassley said he wants answers by Sept. 5 on questions such as what kind of checks are done on relatives that some children are released to and details about why the HHS is paying more than $1,000 a day to house some children. 

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