Castro Statement on Reports that Tornillo Workers Lack Background Checks
WASHINGTON—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, today made the following statement following press reports that more than 2,000 workers at Tornillo have not received background checks:
“I am deeply disturbed by reports that nearly 2,000 workers on staff at Tornillo have not received federally mandated FBI fingerprint background checks. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) explicitly requires these background checks as a minimum hiring standard to ensure the safety of the migrant children they oversee. Given these revelations, I have serious concerns about the health and wellbeing of these children, and call on HHS Secretary Alex Azar to give Congress an answer as to why these checks have not been completed and commit to completing them immediately. As the Administration mulls over gutting the Flores Settlement Agreement which provides protections for minors in detention, it is critical that basic security measures are met and we know who is caring for these children. We must ensure that they are not in any immediate physical danger, or experiencing neglect or abuse while in government care.”
Background: In October, Congressman Castro asked Secretary Azar about reports that children were being moved in the middle of the night from foster homes to live in Tornillo. Specifically, Congressman Castro asked for written answers to questions regarding the number of children that had been separated from their families, government plans for opening other temporary shelters, and child protections among other lines of inquiry. Later in October, Congressman Castro inspected the tent camps in Tornillo for himself and remains deeply concerned about the wellbeing of children in this facility.
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