Washington

Cost to house migrant kids ‘skyrocketing,’ GOP says


House Republicans’ lead investigator demanded Wednesday that Democrats convene a hearing to look at the “skyrocketing” cost for hundreds of illegal immigrant children still surging across the border each day and said the Biden administration is using semantics to downplay the ongoing crisis.

Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the ranking Republican on the House Oversight and Reform Committee, led colleagues in a letter demanding the panel get off the sidelines and hold hearings on the situation.

It’s the third request in less than three months, and the past two were met with silence from committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney, even though Democrats were quite active in holding hearings when it was the Trump administration overseeing a smaller surge of migrant children.

“Our committee should not stand on the sidelines simply because a Democrat occupies the White House,” Mr. Comer and fellow Republicans wrote.

The Washington Times has reached out to Ms. Maloney’s office for comment.

The number of unaccompanied juveniles from beyond Mexico coming across the border each day has slipped from the peak of the surge in March but still totaled 446 children on Monday.

During the peak, more than 5,000 were crammed into Border Patrol facilities. Now, fewer than 600 are in Border Patrol facilities, but more than 17,000 were in facilities run by the Department of Health and Human Services.

The Republicans pointed out in their letter that the agency with custody was sometimes little more than a semantics game. In one location the children were taken from a Border Patrol tent and moved next door to an HHS tent.

“It’s not even across the street,” one Homeland Security official told The Washington Times.

In the Republicans’ letter, they pointed to one facility where children were reportedly forced to use plastic bags for toilet purposes.

“Meanwhile, costs are skyrocketing,” the Republicans said.

They pointed to reports that the administration will end up $4 billion short by the end of the fiscal year, even after having tapped other funds such as money intended to rebuild the Strategic National Stockpile, the government’s cache of equipment such as ventilators that proved crucial in the early days of the pandemic

The Oversight Committee has held one hearing on the border so far this year. But that was to look back at Mr. Trump’s zero tolerance policy and the family separations that ensued.

Other committee hearings have covered artificial intelligence, the status of Washington, D.C., the “black maternal health crisis” and pipeline safety.

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