The Office of Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it’s launching a probe into health and safety conditions at the agency’s housing for migrant kids, the Hill reports.
According to the Hill, the OIG will specifically investigate the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees housing for unaccompanied children and children separated from their parents at the border, “to ensure the safety and health of children placed at ORR facilities, especially when the program experiences a sudden increase in the number of children placed in its care.”
“Specifically,” the OIG said, “this review will focus on a variety of safety- and health-related issues such as employee background screening, employees’ clinical skills and training, identification and response to incidents of harm, and facility security.”
In recent weeks, video and audio recordings from inside some of these facilities have raised questions about the treatment of the children. Audio released by ProPublica last week showed children wailing shortly after they had been separated from their parents, which an agent joked was an “orchestra.” And earlier this week, the Rachel Maddow Show aired video and audio from inside Cayuga Centers in East Harlem, where nearly 250 kids separated from their families were being held.
One of the audio clips appeared to show a worker at the center implying that if the kids talked to reporters, it could negatively impact their immigration case. “I know I am not supposed to be telling you, but I am going to tell you the truth. If for whatever reason you tell a reporter, you know what’s going to happen to your case?” an unidentified worker told the children in Spanish. “It is going to be on the news—and then one doesn’t know what is going to happen—if you are going to last here for a long time. I am not trying to scare you. I am just telling you, that’s the truth.”
On Tuesday, HHS said that 2,047 kids the government had separated from their parents were still in federal custody.