Thousands of workers at HHS tent city for migrant children not fingerprinted: report

Thousands of workers at HHS tent city for migrant children not fingerprinted: report
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Approximately 2,000 staff members at a facility in Tornillo, Texas, built to house unaccompanied migrant children are reportedly working without having their fingerprint background checks done by the FBI.

Vice News reported Tuesday that workers at the "tent city"-style facility in Texas have not been fingerprinted or undergone the subsequent background checks due to a technical issue with how the company that operates the facility, BCFS Health and Human Services, gets access to FBI data.

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BCFS operates the facility, which houses hundreds of migrant children, under a grant from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). An HHS spokesman blamed the failure to fingerprint workers on the company, which it says is responsible for making sure workers comply with regulations.

“It’s on the grantee to verify that the work’s been done,” the spokesman told Vice News.

The company, meanwhile, argues that it has been alerting federal officials to the issue "for months," and stated that HHS had been unable to provide a solution.

We have repeatedly asked for access to this system,” a BCFS official reportedly said. “There isn’t, so far, a mechanism by which to access it. That’s not something that can be changed by BCFS.”

In an emailed statement to The Hill Tuesday night, an HHS spokesman said that the agency's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) had begun work in September to address the issues with the background checks, and that the work to resolve the issues was ongoing.

"In September 2018, ORR began work with BCFS Health and Human Services (BCFS) to resolve the background check and clinical staffing issues identified in the report. ORR continues to work in collaboration with BCFS to resolve outstanding issues," the agency wrote.

The number of migrant children held in detention by the Trump administration hit a record high earlier this month, with 14,000 minors currently being held in facilities like the Tornillo tent city across the country.

“Currently, there are approximately 14,000 minors in the unaccompanied alien children program, a number that can fluctuate up or down," HHS spokeswoman Evelyn Stauffer told The Hill earlier this month.

"The Trump Administration continues to enforce current laws to address our nation’s crisis at the border," she added.