Hagerty, Blackburn, And Fleischmann Request Briefing From HHS After Reports Of Abuse And A Missing Child At A Facility In Chattanooga

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Senators Bill Hagerty, and Marsha Blackburn, and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann on Thursday sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra requesting a briefing to discuss the department’s management of unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in federal custody and efforts to ensure their well-being.

The letter comes after reports that a 16-year-old boy went missing on Monday from a Chattanooga facility housing UACs in the custody of HHS, as well as Wednesday’s news that this specific facility is under state and federal investigation based upon recent abuse allegations by a child in custody.

“This allegation of abuse and the missing child individually raise urgent questions that demand immediate answers regarding the steps HHS is taking to ensure the safety and well-being of UACs in this Chattanooga facility,” Senators Hagerty, Blackburn, and Rep.

Fleischmann wrote.

In May, the three sent a letter to the HHS and Department of Homeland Security Secretaries requesting transparency after reports that the Biden Administration had been transporting illegal unaccompanied minors to Tennessee. The Biden Administration has not responded to the letter.

Last month, the Tennessee lawmakers also introduced the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act, which requires the HHS Secretary and DHS Secretary to consult in advance with state and local officials of impacted jurisdictions regarding federally administered or funded migrant resettlement. It also requires the Administration to submit to Congress and governors a monthly, state-specific report regarding the resettlement, transportation, or relocation of illegal aliens.

A copy of the letter sent on Thursday can be found below:

Dear Secretary Becerra,

We write regarding today’s report that a 16-year-old boy went missing on June 14 from a Chattanooga facility housing unaccompanied alien children (UACs) in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as yesterday’s statement by the Tennessee Commissioner of Children’s Services that this facility, which is managed by the Georgia-based Baptiste Group, is under state and federal investigation based upon recent child abuse allegations by a child at the facility.

This allegation of abuse and the missing child individually raise urgent questions that demand immediate answers regarding the steps HHS is taking to ensure the safety and well-being of UACs in this Chattanooga facility. More generally, given the large number of UACs being placed in HHS custody in the interior of the United States due to the ongoing border crisis, we request a briefing to discuss your Department’s management of UACs in federal custody throughout the United States and efforts to ensure their well-being. 

We have requested transparency regarding these matters for several weeks, including through aMay 20 letter, as well as the introduction of the Migrant Resettlement Transparency Act, which would require that the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security consult with governors and mayors in affected jurisdictions regarding resettlement of non-detained illegal aliens and submit a monthly state-specific report regarding such resettlement efforts. 

This new information only underscores the need for such transparency. Thank you for your prompt attention to this letter and these questions, and we look forward receiving your answers as soon as possible.



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