Sen. Ossoff Presses Biden Administration to Address Lack of Child Welfare Professionals at Southern Border

Lack of child welfare professionals forces CBP officers to care for children instead of conducting their law enforcement duties along Southern Border

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff is continuing his work to secure the border while protecting vulnerable children in U.S. custody.

Last week, Sen. Ossoff launched an inquiry with U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) into delays deploying licensed child welfare professionals to assist children who are temporarily in U.S. Southern Border facilities.

For the last several years, Congress has appropriated funding to the DHS Office of Health Security (OHS) for the specific purpose of staffing licensed professionals to provide appropriate care for children in U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) facilities.

However, DHS has yet to fully implement the program, forcing many CBP agents and officers to perform various child welfare duties in Border Patrol stations and at Ports of Entry instead of their law enforcement functions along the border.

In his inquiry, Sen. Ossoff is urging DHS to expedite the hiring of the child welfare professionals serving children in CBP custody.

“The deployment of these professionals will directly enhance the security of the U.S. southern border. At present, many CBP agents and officers must perform various child welfare duties in Border Patrol stations and at Ports of Entry in lieu of vital law enforcement functions on the frontlines for which they are specially trained. The hiring of child welfare professionals, who will help coordinate and carry out those child welfare duties, will enable agents and officers to better dedicate their attention and resources to law enforcement matters, all while driving efficiency and streamlining border operations,” Sen. Ossoff wrote to DHS Secretary Mayorkas and Dr. Wolfe, Acting Director and Chief Medical Officer of DHS’ Office of Health Security.

Sen. Ossoff continues to advocate for the safety and well-being of children while ensuring agencies securing the border are properly staffed.

Last week, Sen. Ossoff announced new funding to hire more border agents through this year’s bipartisan government funding bill.

Last month, Sen. Ossoff introduced the Deploy Fentanyl Scanners Act of 2024 to help deploy scanners at ports of entry to better identify contraband, including fentanyl, being smuggled across the border through personal vehicles.

In February, Sen. Ossoff joined a group of Senators calling on President Biden to include robust Federal funding for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) drug trafficking prevention initiatives in his FY2025 budget.

In January, Sen. Ossoff helped pass the bipartisan CHECKPOINT Act through the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to strengthen border security and oversight along the southern border.

Last year, Sen. Ossoff helped pass the bipartisan Securing America’s Ports of Entry Act through the U.S. Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, which would require U.S. Customs and Border Protection to hire, train, and assign no less than 600 additional CBP officers a year, until the agency’s staffing needs are met, to secure ports of entry across the country.

Click aquí to read Sen. Ossoff’s inquiry.

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