HHS says it may take a month to retroactively fingerprint workers at migrant tent city

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) says it could take a month to retroactively fingerprint workers at the migrant tent city in Texas. 

The pledge comes days after an HHS watchdog report raised concerns that none of the staff at a refugee camp in Tornillo, Texas were subject to an FBI fingerprint checks. More than 2,300 teens are currently being held at the tent city, the AP reported.


HHS spokesman Mark Weber told the AP on Thursday that it is seeking to complete the FBI fingerprint scans for all of the camp's staff members within a month. The agency did not immediately respond to The Hill's request for comment.

The HHS Inspector General report, released Tuesday, found that Scott Lloyd, the former top refugee official in the Trump administration, signed off on a waiver that let the refugee camp forgo rigorous background checks for staff that could have detected a history of child abuse.

Scott Lloyd, who was transferred to another part of HHS last week, reportedly granted the waiver two days before the the facility began its operations in June. 

“Instead of FBI fingerprint checks, Tornillo is using checks conducted by a private contractor that has access to less comprehensive data, thereby heightening the risk that an individual with a criminal history could have direct access to children in ORR care,” the IG report said.

All staff, contractors and volunteers at a facility operated by HHS are supposed to be subject to a child protective services check, as well as an FBI fingerprint check.

Lawmakers have been calling for HHS to address the background check issues since the report came out. Democratic House members this week penned a letter raising their concerns in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. 

“These issues must be addressed and remedied without delay,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) wrote.