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115th Congress   }                                           {     Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session      }                                           {    115-835




   July 18, 2018.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 


 Mr. Walden, from the Committee on Energy and Commerce, submitted the 

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

                       [To accompany H. Res. 982]

    The Committee on Energy and Commerce, to whom was referred 
the resolution (H. Res. 982) of inquiry requesting the 
President, and directing the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services, to transmit, respectively, certain information to the 
House of Representatives referring to the separation of 
children from their parents or guardians as a result of the 
President's ``zero tolerance'' policy, having considered the 
same, report thereon without amendment and without 


Purpose and Summary..............................................     2
Background and Need for Legislation..............................     2
Committee Action.................................................    11
Committee Votes..................................................    11
Oversight Findings and Recommendations...........................    13
New Budget Authority, Entitlement Authority, and Tax Expenditures    13
Congressional Budget Office Estimate.............................    13
Federal Mandates Statement.......................................    13
Statement of General Performance Goals and Objectives............    13
Advisory Committee Statement.....................................    13
Applicability to Legislative Branch..............................    13
Section-by-Section Analysis of the Legislation...................    13
Dissenting Views.................................................    14

                          PURPOSE AND SUMMARY

    H. Res. 982 requests the President, and directs the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services, to transmit to the 
House of Representatives, not later than 14 days after the date 
of the adoption of the resolution, records relating to the 
President's ``zero tolerance'' policy.


    The Committee began investigating the U.S. Department of 
Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee 
Resettlement's (ORR) management and treatment of unaccompanied 
alien children (UAC) beginning in 2014 after the dramatic surge 
in border crossings by UAC from Central America as well as a 
series of media reports regarding allegations of abuse, 
including sexual abuse, of minors in HHS custody. In 2014, the 
Committee held a bipartisan roundtable for members on issues 
related to UAC. In 2015 and 2016, the Committee sent three 
letters to HHS raising concerns about the treatment of children 
while in the care and custody of ORR and the then-lack of 
follow up to ensure that children were cared for properly after 
being placed with a sponsor.
    On June 29, 2018, the Committee sent a letter to HHS 
Secretary Alex M. Azar II asking a series of questions and 
requesting documents about ORR's operations related to the 
management and treatment of UAC, including the reunification of 
children with their parents.
    On July 9, 2018, Chairman Walden led a bipartisan 
delegation of members of the Committee on Energy and Commerce 
to McAllen, Texas, and surrounding areas, to view border 
facilities and the border between the United States and Mexico. 
Members visited the following facilities:
           Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 
        Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Centralized 
        Processing Center (CPC) in McAllen, Texas;
           Tour of the border between the United States 
        and Mexico near McAllen, Texas;
           Department of Health and Human Services, 
        Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) grantee facility, 
        Southwest Key Facility ``Casa Padre'' in Brownsville, 
           DHS, Gateway Bridge Port of Entry in 
        Brownsville, Texas; and
           DHS, Immigration and Customs Enforcement 
        (ICE), Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Port 
        Isabel Detention Center.
    This memorandum is compiled from the notes and recollection 
of staff who participated in the CODEL. It is not a 
comprehensive collection of all information learned during the 


    Members received a tour of the ``line''--the border--
between the U.S. and Mexico near McAllen, Texas. The Rio Grande 
Valley (RGV) sector of the border includes the facilities 
visited on July 9. The RGV includes more than 34,000 square 
miles of Southeast Texas, including 320 river miles and 250 
coastal miles.
    The RGV has the highest apprehension rate of UAC and family 
units on the Southwest border. According to CBP officials, 
cartels and other smugglers send UAC and family units across in 
dense refuge areas--areas with thick vegetation along the Rio 
Grande river--known to CBP. This means that, while CBP agents 
are apprehending family units and UAC from what are effectively 
designated areas, cartels and other smugglers can bring in 
drugs and other contraband through other areas along the border 
in the RGV.
    There are approximately 3,100 CBP agents in the RGV. Each 
day, roughly 900 agents are at checkpoints or on the border 
line, and 200 agents work to process individuals apprehended 
crossing the border illegally. CBP estimated that it needs 
another 500 agents in just this area of the border to provide 
adequately patrol coverage. CBP patrols the RGV border line by 
air, boat, on land (by vehicle, horse, and foot), and by 
utilizing permanent and mobile surveillance systems.
    CBP officials explained the various challenges they face 
within the RGV sector due to the variation in the terrain and 
characteristics of the Rio Grande river. Examples of those 
challenges include dense vegetation and changes in the river's 
width and depth. The tools and equipment that they need to 
patrol these various terrains are more extensive than other 
sectors. For example, the river alone can require different 
types of marine vessels or boats given the variations in width 
and depth. CBP has a pilot initiative underway to increase the 
use of drones on the border, but it is difficult to use drones 
because the operator must keep a clear line of site with the 
drone. In addition, CBP must operate drones at specified 
elevations and obtain permits from the Federal Aviation 
Administration (FAA) for missions, especially given the 
proximity of the border to McAllen International Airport. 
Drones also have limited effectiveness in this sector due to 
the dense refuge areas on one or both sides of the border. The 
refuge areas on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande river are under 
the jurisdiction of the Fish and Wildlife Service. There are 
also many areas where private property runs up to the Rio 
Grande river. Many of the crops grown in this area are tall 
crops, which also makes it difficult to view and detect 
individuals (or goods, in the case of drugs and other 
contraband materials) moving through the property.
    Due to the dense refuge areas on both sides of the border, 
individuals crossing the river from Mexico typically cannot be 
seen until they are in a raft on the Mexican side, and are 
quickly lost in the refuge area. They are often apprehended by 
CBP once they emerge from the undergrowth. Family units and UAC 
are seeking to be apprehended by CBP officials. One CBP agent 
said, ``they arrest us.'' Roughly 100 UAC per day are 
apprehended in the RGV. CBP officials could not provide an 
average number ofpersons apprehended per day in family units. 
Often individuals are apprehended in large groups that include 
individuals, UAC, and family units.
    CBP officials stated that additional ``enforcement zones'' 
and additional technology would be helpful to secure the border 
in the RGV. The delegation viewed one such ``enforcement zone'' 
that was previously created. The area allows CBP agents to see 
individuals as they exit the refuge area. One CBP agent said 
that the creation of a road along the Rio Grande river in the 
RGV would be very helpful.
    CBP agents emphasized the challenges in the RGV sector but 
noted that different areas of the border with Mexico require 
different solutions, and something that would be helpful in the 
RGV may not be helpful in another part of the border. CBP 
showed members a video detailing changes in enforcement and 
apprehensions at different border sectors, including the RGV, 
from FY 1992 to FY 2016. The video can be found here: https://
    CBP estimated that 6,000 individuals illegally enter the 
U.S. in the RGV each week; CBP apprehends roughly 4,000-4,200 
people. Family units and UAC pay roughly $4,000 to smugglers to 
make it to the U.S. border. According to CBP, family units and 
UAC want to be apprehended by CBP, so their cost is lower. The 
smuggler will bring the family unit or UAC to the edge of the 
river on the U.S. side of the border and immediately return 
across to Mexico. The smuggler typically does not leave the 
raft on the river, so it is difficult for CBP to apprehend the 
smuggler himself. Individuals who want to get past the 
checkpoints further into the U.S., for example, to Houston, pay 
roughly $8,000. For even more money, cartels and smugglers will 
bring an individual to any city in the U.S. An individual 
seeking to enter the U.S. illegally can also pay more money to 
avoid having to walk or travel through refuge areas.
    CBP estimated that $1.3 billion per year is generated for 
the cartels and other smugglers bringing individuals into the 
United States through only the RGV. The expenses for the 
journeys are roughly $640 million, which includes rafts, 
guides, drivers, stash houses, bribes, etc., and the profits 
are roughly $658 million.

                             MCALLEN, TEXAS

    The delegation visited a CBP Centralized Processing Center 
(CPC) facility in McAllen, Texas and was provided a briefing 
and tour of the facility. The briefing included information 
regarding the shift in immigration patterns across the southern 
border and how those shifts in patterns have been addressed by 
the U.S. to date. This CPC facility is an example of the first 
facility that a person or family will visit after being 
apprehended for an illegal border crossing. There are two 
temporary detention facilities at this location. There is a 
55,000-square foot facility which houses family units and UAC, 
which members viewed. There is a second facility that houses 
men and women who are not UAC or part of a family unit. The 
facility was quickly built after the surge of UAC in 2014. The 
facility can hold 3,300 people. On July 9, 2018, approximately 
1,300 people were at the facility.
    Prior to the creation of this facility, individuals and 
families apprehended at the border were processed at the 
McAllen station, which had a capacity of only 250 people. The 
video that CBP showed the delegation included images of the CBP 
facilities in McAllen prior to the creation of this facility, 
beginning at minute 4:12. The video can be found here: https://
    Individuals are held in this facility for an average of 50 
hours for processing. The longest instance of someone being 
held in this facility that CBP could recall was one week. Upon 
arriving at the facility, the personal belongings of each 
individual are taken and stored. Individuals are provided a 
``claim check'' for their belongings, which are then returned 
upon an individual's departure from the facility. If an adult 
or child's clothes need to be laundered, CBP provides new 
clothing and launders and then returns the original clothing. 
Individuals receive meals and snacks are readily available. 
Toilet and shower facilities are available, toiletries and 
other items such as diapers are provided, and each individual 
is issued a soft mat for sleeping and a hygienic mylar ``space 
blanket'' for warmth. Televisions with age-appropriate 
entertainment were provided in each of the facility's zones. 
Representatives from the consulates of several countries are on 
    The building is divided into four ``zones''--male head of 
household (men traveling with children); female head of 
household (women traveling with children); male UAC; and female 
UAC. In most situations, family units are held in the same 
zone. There are exceptions to this. For example, an older 
daughter traveling with her father will not be housed in the 
male head of household section. At the time of our visit, there 
was one family where the father and one young child were held 
in the male head of household section, and an older daughter 
was held in the female UAC section. CBP agents said that they 
would take them out of the respective areas to talk with each 
other any time they asked.
    Processing by CBP includes determining whether a family 
relationship exists or if there is any evidence of fraud. Most 
of the time, CBP does not discern evidence of fraud or 
trafficking within the family units. However, there are 
exceptions. For example, CBP officials recounted that, just a 
few days before the Committee's visit, a man crossed the border 
with a four-month-old baby that he claimed was his child. The 
demeanor of the man raised suspicions of CBP agents. Upon 
questioning, he then said that he was not the child's father, 
but the child's uncle. CBP agents searched their records and 
found that he had entered the U.S. the previous year with 
another child. When CBP agents asked about the whereabouts of 
that child, the man said that he did not know. Upon further 
questioning, the man admitted that he was not a relative of the 
infant at all, and the infant was separated from the man who 
brought him or her across the border.
    After CBP processes those apprehended at the border, UAC 
are sent to HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) shelters. 
HHS tells CBP which shelter a UAC should be sent to, and CBP 
transfers the UAC. Family units are referred to ICE detention 
facilities. If ICE does not have the capacity to detain the 
family, then they are released, typically with an ankle 
bracelet, and given a notice to appear at a subsequent 
immigration hearing. While there are several thousand ICE 
detention beds for women traveling with children, there are 
less than 90 detention beds for men traveling with children in 
the U.S. Adults apprehended illegally entering the country 
without minor children are also referred to ICE detention 
facilities. If ICE does not have the capacity to detain an 
adult, then he or she is released, typically with an ankle 
bracelet, and given a notice to appear at a subsequent 
immigration hearing.
    Members asked about the implementation of the ``zero 
tolerance'' initiative and whether there was coordination 
between federal agencies prior to the implementation or 
announcement of this policy. One CBP official stated that, in 
his opinion, the ``zero tolerance'' initiative was a good 
deterrent, but expressed that the policy was not well executed. 
While CBP did not explicitly state that there was no 
coordination between federal agencies prior to the public 
announcement of the ``zero tolerance'' initiative, CBP 
officials did acknowledge that the implementation of the ``zero 
tolerance'' initiative was not great, and did not consider 
second, third, and fourth degree impacts, including family 
separations. CBP officials told staff that, in the RGV, they 
did not separate children under five from their parents unless 
there were concerns about fraud or trafficking, or other 
endangerment issues for the children. CBP officials also 
clarified that families were not separated in the field. CBP 
officials could not provide a figure for the number of children 
in total separated from their parents at this facility.


    The delegation visited an HHS ORR facility, managed by HHS 
grantee Southwest Key. The ``Casa Padre'' facility is licensed 
to hold just under 1,500 boys between the ages of 10 and 17. 
The facility originally received a license for 1,200 children, 
and received a variance for roughly an additional 240 children. 
Approximately half of all UAC, including separated children, in 
the RGV are housed at this facility. There are two other 
Southwest Key facilities nearby that house female UAC, 
including separated children. HHS also has other grantee sites 
in the RGV. According to Southwest Key staff, there are 23 
other facilities in South Texas, but there isn't another 
program as big as Southwest Key. The average length of time 
that a child stays at this facility is 48 to 52 days. The 
longest amount of time that a child has stayed at this facility 
is ``more than a year.'' The Casa Padre facility has 
approximately 1,200 employees.
    According to Southwest Key, roughly 90 percent of the 
children housed in this facility are true UAC, meaning that 
they entered the U.S. without a parent or guardian. Roughly 10 
percent were separated from a parent or legal guardian. For 
purposes of this section, both true UAC and children separated 
from their parents are defined as ``UAC.''
    As noted above, UAC and children separated from their 
parents are first encountered by CBP. CBP notifies HHS ORR that 
it has apprehended a UAC. ORR does an ``intake'' out of its 
Washington, D.C. office and determines to which facility the 
UAC or separated child should go. DHS facilitates the transfer 
of the child to that shelter. According to ORR, more than 80 
percent of UAC enter the U.S. with information about a 
potential sponsor and other paperwork.
    ORR staff stated that they did not receive consistent 
information from DHS regarding whether a child was 
separatedfrom their parents, including information about who that 
parent is, upon entry pursuant to the ``zero tolerance'' initiative or 
otherwise. Sometimes this information was in the information provided 
by DHS, and other times ORR learned about the separation from the child 
itself. Case managers work with DHS to obtain additional information 
needed about each UAC.
    Within 24 hours of arriving at Casa Padre, UAC are assessed 
by a clinician and a case manager who immediately starts the 
reunification process. Within 48 hours of arrival, children are 
seen by a doctor for vaccinations, receive an x-ray for 
tuberculosis, are screened for communicable diseases such as 
chicken pox, and are screened via interview for information 
about sexual activity, sexual abuse, sexually transmitted 
diseases (STD), and chronic conditions, among other medical 
issues. Southwest Key follows the CDC's catch up schedule for 
vaccinations. If a UAC says that he or she received a 
vaccination in their home country, Southwest Key asks for 
documentation that they received the vaccination. It is rare 
that this documentation can be provided. If the UAC claims that 
they have been vaccinated, but documentation cannot be 
provided, the facility will still vaccinate the UAC. If a UAC 
tests positive for a reportable communicable disease or STD 
both the doctor and Southwest Key report that to the state. The 
sexual abuse screen asks whether a UAC has been sexually abused 
either in their home country, en route to the U.S., or in CBP 
or ORR care. UAC are also asked about sexual abuse by 
clinicians and case managers. UAC receive an educational 
assessment within 72 hours and are assigned to one of four 
educational levels, with four being roughly a high school 
    UAC see a clinician at least once a week, sometimes more. 
They also regularly meet with their case manager. At Casa 
Padre, each UAC can make two ten-minute phone calls a week--one 
to someone in their home country (typically a parent) and 
another to their potential sponsor in the U.S. UAC receive six 
hours of school Monday through Friday and two hours of outdoor 
time each day. There are also indoor activity rooms and 
gymnasiums. Meals are served in 30-minute shifts. The 
facilities viewed by the delegation were clean. Casa Padre is 
divided into four quadrants. Each quadrant is identical and 
includes bedrooms, classrooms, and activity rooms. Each 
quadrant has an elected student council, including a President, 
Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, and can voice 
concerns and suggestions to Casa Padre management.
    As noted above, according to ORR, most UAC arrive in the 
U.S. with information about a potential sponsor. The case 
manager works with the potential sponsor to determine the 
relationship to the child. ORR policy requires a bonafide 
relationship--the sponsor must know the UAC in some way. If the 
potential sponsor is unable to prove his or her relationship to 
the UAC via birth certificates, then DNA testing is used. 
Approximately 100-150 UAC at Casa Padre are placed with a 
sponsor each week. The vast majority of sponsors are parents, 
aunts, uncles, and grandparents. Some sponsors are close family 
friends. If a UAC enters the country without an identified 
sponsor, ORR works with outside groups to determine whether the 
UAC has a likelihood of receiving asylum. If such a UAC is 
likely to receive asylum, then he or she would likely be placed 
in foster care. If such a UAC is not likely to receive asylum, 
then he or she would likely stay at the ORR facility until 
their court date. If a UAC turns 18 while in the care of ORR, 
they are transferred to DHS custody.
    When a sponsor is approved, Southwest Key staff travels 
with the UAC so they can meet their sponsor. Many sponsors are 
not legally present in the U.S., so they cannot travel to the 
Casa Padre facility as it is within the checkpoints in Texas. 
After a UAC is released to a sponsor, ORR tracks the UAC for 30 
days, including by follow-up phone call. If ORR finds that the 
UAC is not doing well, for example, it is found that they 
haven't been enrolled in school or are not attending school, 
ORR files a report. Members asked why HHS does not follow-up at 
subsequent intervals, such as 3 months, 6 months, 1 year, etc. 
According to ORR, the UAC must appear for court dates and there 
are other systems in place should the UAC not appear in court. 
ORR has previously told the Committee that it does not have the 
resources necessary to conduct longer-term follow up of UAC 
once they are placed with sponsors.
    As Casa Padre is not a detention facility, it cannot 
forcibly stop UAC from leaving the property. If a UAC indicates 
that he wants to leave, staff at Casa Padre speak with the UAC 
and encourage him to stay, but does not restrain the UAC should 
they elect to leave. Casa Padre staff stated that two UAC have 
walked out of the facility since it opened in 2017; one was 
subsequently apprehended and was stepped up to a higher 
    ORR monitors the capacity of its grantee shelters daily and 
is able to adjust as necessary. For example, Casa Padre applied 
for and received a variance to house more UAC when that became 
    According to ORR officials, children that were separated 
from their parents and are to be reunified with their parents 
would be brought by the shelter where they were placed to a 
reunification site, at which point the children would be 
transferred to ICE custody and the family unit would be 
released by ICE due to a lack of family detention space.

                    IV. GATEWAY BRIDGE PORT OF ENTRY

    The delegation visited the Gateway Bridge Port of Entry in 
Brownsville, Texas. The delegation was briefed and provided a 
tour by the CBP officials on the Port of Brownsville. The 
briefing included information regarding the port's area of 
responsibility; operational infrastructure; its processing and 
inspection process for passenger, pedestrian, commercial, 
seaport, and rail border traffic; and admissibility processing.
    The Port of Brownsville is the only port of entry in the 
United States with all operational disciplines (land, air, sea, 
and rail) under the direction of one port director. The 
Brownsville area of responsibility extends over 180 square 
miles and has four international border crossings, an 
international airport, seaport, rail bridge, and two commercial 
import/export lots. The operational infrastructure consists of 
17 vehicle lanes, 10 pedestrian lanes, 17 immigration 
processing windows, and eight inbound commercial lanes. In 2017 
the Brownsville Port ranked 5th in the number of vehicles 
processed--4,848,503; 6th in the number of privately owned 
vehicle passengers processed--10,003,047; 12th in the number of 
commercially operated vehicles processed--222,406; 13th in the 
number of trains processed--790; and 12th in the number of 
buses processed--6,591. Thus far in FY 2018, the Port of 
Brownsville has processed individuals claiming asylum from 91 
different countries. Additionally, they processed approximately 
12,000 immigration apprehensions. The Port of Brownsville 
issues 3,000 to 4,000 I-94s each day.
    Port officials cannot turn away individuals or families 
seeking asylum once they have crossed the border between the 
U.S. and Mexico at the port of entry. CBP officials process 
those seeking asylum, creating an ``A-file.'' Individuals or 
families can stay at the Port for up to 72 hours, and all 
asylees are sent to ICE ERO after processing by CBP at the 
port. If the individual or family speaks Spanish, CBP officials 
can interview and transfer them to ICE ERO within three hours. 
If a translator is needed then the process can take longer, 
often six to eight hours. If the Port cannot transfer the 
individual or family, then the line quickly backs up. CBP 
officials stand outside the facility on the Gateway Bridge 
itself and allow people into the facility--both those seeking 
asylum and those otherwise entering the U.S.--as space permits. 
The CBP officials on the bridge also do a preliminary review of 
any paperwork presented by those wanting to enter the U.S. CBP 
officials expedite asylum processing for humanitarian reasons, 
including a pregnant mother or a family with young children. 
There are families waiting to legally claim asylum waiting in 
Mexico. CBP officials could not provide an estimate of how many 
families are waiting at this facility or the amount of time 
that an individual or family typically waits before space is 
available to process their asylum claim. According to CBP 
officials, they are processing legal asylum claims as quickly 
as ICE ERO can pick up the individuals or families. The 
delegation did not cross into Mexico.
    According to CBP officials, approximately 80 percent of 
people seeking asylum are found to have a ``reasonable fear'' 
of persecution, which allows them to stay in the U.S. while 
their asylum case is pending. Ultimately, approximately 20 
percent of people seeking asylum meet the ``credible fear'' 
    CBP officials examine the documents provided by the 
individual or family for obvious indicators of fraud. According 
to CBP officials, they can often determine if a passport is 
fraudulent. It is much harder to determine if a birth 
certificate is fraudulent. CBP officials assume the documents 
presented are accurate and valid unless there is evidence that 
it is fraudulent. If an individual presents fraudulent 
documents, CBP refers the individual for prosecution.
    The Port of Brownsville facility was last updated in 1983 
and the CBP officials expressed concern over the fact that they 
don't have a lot of room to handle UACs or family units. The 
lack of infrastructure is compounded by the fact that finding a 
facility to house families can take 72 hours. During a walking 
tour of the facility and bridge, the delegation observed what 
was formerly office space that has been converted into a room 
to hold UACs and family units until they are able to transfer 
them. This room is in the same area as the interview rooms and 
holding cells for criminals that are apprehended at the port of 
    In addition to the lack of space, the Port of Brownsville 
facility is largely using old technologies. According to CBP 
officials, the Port does not receive enough electricity to run 
newer scanning technologies or magnetometers.
    CBP officials told the delegation that there has been an 
increase in the male head of household family units coming 
across theborder, 200 last year, and officials shared that 
there are limited facilities and beds that can accommodate that type of 
family unit. According to an ICE official at the Port Isabel Detention 
Center, if a male head of household family unit requests asylum at the 
Port of Brownsville facility, CBP officials at Brownsville will 
interview and process the request and make a request to ICE for male 
head of household detention bed space. Given the lack of male head of 
household detention space, ICE will deny the request. The family unit 
will be sent to a CPC and processed with a notice to appear for a 
subsequent immigration hearing. Officials also noted that part of the 
CBP delay is due to the ports infrastructure because the facility is 
not designed to process the high number of individuals seeking asylum.


    The delegation visited the U.S. Immigration and Customs 
Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Port 
Isabel Detention Center in Los Fresnos, Texas. The delegation 
was briefed and provided a tour by the ICE officials at the 
Port Isabel Detention Center. The briefing included information 
about the history of the facility, the size and classification 
of the population at the facility, average length of stay and 
the various reasons that individuals are detained at the Port 
Isabel facility.
    The facility was built in the 1960s and was a former 
military base. Some of the infrastructure is new, but the 
facility still has parts of the original structure. The 
facility is a 1,200-bed facility and only holds adults, both 
male and female, who are awaiting removal or going through the 
removal process. The facility is authorized to house level 1 
(non-criminal), level 2 (convicted of a minor crime), and level 
3 (criminal felony) individuals. Individuals wear different 
color clothing depending on their level. Individuals classified 
as level 1 make up the majority of the facility's population. 
Individuals classified as level 1 do not interact with 
individuals classified as level 3. Individuals classified as 
level 2 can interact with individuals in level 1 or level 3, 
depending on the circumstances. Individuals detained at this 
facility come from a port of entry after claiming asylum, after 
apprehension by CBP after illegally crossing the border, often 
after claiming asylum, or an ICE action.
    Upon arrival at the facility, individuals receive a quick 
medical screening and are classified into levels 1, 2, or 3. 
Within the first 12 hours, they receive a more thorough medical 
screening; females are also tested for pregnancy. The average 
length of stay for an individual is 11 days and on average 
there are roughly 500 individuals going in and out of the 
facility on a ``good day.'' There are approximately 4-5 charter 
flights per week that hold 135 individuals to transport 
individuals back to their country of origin. Others are 
released into the U.S. after an interview showing that they 
have a reasonable fear of persecution if they return to their 
home country. Of the facility's population, officials noted 
that approximately 20-30 percent of individuals claim fear of 
being returned to their country.
    According to ICE ERO officials, at this facility, if a 
pregnant woman is less than six months pregnant and can be 
returned to her home country within a week, she will be 
detained at Port Isabel and then deported. If she is more than 
six months pregnant, or will not be deported within a week, she 
is released with a notice to appear at a subsequent immigration 
    For individuals who are released into the U.S. after a 
credible fear screening, ICE ERO asks relatives or other people 
a potential asylee knows to procure a bus ticket for the 
individual before they are released. Local charitable shelters 
also help individuals get to their intended destinations.
    Currently there are 371 identified parents in custody at 
Port Isabel, both male and female. ICE is working with HHS and 
ORR to identify parents and as such HHS is on site conducting 
DNA testing and matching them with children to ensure that they 
are a legitimate family. The DNA testing started last week and 
as of Monday, July 9, ICE officials expected that testing to be 
completed in the next 2 days. Despite being designated as a 
family reunification site, officials stated that there they are 
not equipped to have children at the Port Isabel facility. 
Instead, a third facility nearby was designated as a place for 
parents and kids to be reunified and they are working with ORR 
on that process. ICE ERO officials explained that Port Isabel 
had been designated as a family reunification site because it 
is a location to which parents have been moved to facilitate 
reunification with their children. ICE ERO officials at this 
facility did not have detailed information on the process by 
which parents separated from their children would be reunified 
with the parents at the third facility.

                            COMMITTEE ACTION

    The Committee on Energy and Commerce has not held hearings 
on the legislation.
    On July 12, 2018, the Committee met in open markup session 
and ordered H. Res. 982, without amendment, reported to the 
House without recommendation by a record vote of 52 yeas and 0 

                            COMMITTEE VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII requires the Committee to list the 
record votes on the motion to report legislation and amendments 
thereto. The following reflects the record votes taken during 
the Committee consideration:


    Pursuant to clause 2(b)(1) of rule X and clause 3(c)(1) of 
rule XIII, the findings and recommendations of the Committee 
are reflected in this report.


    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII, the Committee 
finds that H. Res. 982 would result in no new or increased 
budget authority, entitlement authority, or tax expenditures or 


    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII, at the time this 
report was filed, the cost estimate prepared by the Director of 
the Congressional Budget Office pursuant to section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974 was not available.

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 


    Pursuant to clause 3(c)(4) of rule XIII, the general 
performance goal or objective of this legislation is to request 
the President and direct the Secretary of Health and Human 
Services to furnish certain records relating to the President's 
``zero tolerance'' policy.


    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act were created by this 


    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act.


    H. Res. 982 requests the President, and directs the 
Secretary of Health and Human Services, to transmit to the 
House of Representatives, not later than 14 days after the date 
of the adoption of the resolution, records relating to the 
President's ``zero tolerance'' policy.

                            DISSENTING VIEWS

    I submit these dissenting views, as Ranking Member of the 
Committee on Energy and Commerce, in opposition to the failure 
by the Republican majority of the Committee to act favorably 
upon H. Res. 982.
    On June 14, 2018, I sent a letter to the Secretary of 
Health and Human Services (HHS) asking him to answer some 
questions about the Trump Administration's implementation of a 
``zero tolerance'' immigration policy that resulted in the 
forcible separation of all minors, including very young 
children, from their parents and family members. My letter 
requested details about the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement 
(ORR) and ORR's ability to track the minors in its care, as 
well as the role of ORR Director Scott Lloyd in facilitating 
the release of certain minors.
    Six days later, on June 20, 2018, every Democratic Member 
of the Energy and Commerce Committee signed a hearing request 
letter to Chairman Walden and Health Subcommittee Chairman 
Burgess emphasizing that the Committee must immediately hold a 
hearing to examine the implications of the ``zero tolerance'' 
policy and ``to gain clarity on what children are being placed 
in ORR's custody, how they are being cared for, and the long-
term implications these policies may have on their health.'' 
The Democratic Members urged Chairman Walden and Chairman 
Burgess to invite key officials and other pediatric health care 
experts to testify regarding the impacts of this policy.
    On June 20, 2018, after sustained public outcry regarding 
the Administration's family separation policy, President Trump 
signed an Executive Order ending the family separation policy. 
Following this action, I again called on Chairman Walden to 
schedule a hearing as soon as possible.
    Now, nearly a month after my initial request, the Chairman 
continues to refuse to schedule a hearing or provide any 
assurances that a hearing will be scheduled in the future.
    On June 26, 2018, I requested additional information from 
the Secretary of HHS and expressed my concern about the ability 
of ORR and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to reunite 
separated children and parents in a timely manner. I asked for 
information about the constantly changing numbers of children 
in ORR's care that were forcibly separated from their parents, 
and whether all family separations had effectively ceased 
following the June 20 Executive Order. I also inquired about 
the system by which HHS and ORR track those children who are in 
its care, and how HHS ensures identifying information is 
connected to each child. Additionally, I asked how HHS worked 
with DHS and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) to obtain 
information about a child's parents or family, and who is the 
primary Administration official in charge of managing 
reunification. Most critically, I further sought information on 
whether ORR took or was taking any steps to offer special care 
or treatment to children who may have suffered trauma as a 
result of being forcibly separated from their family.
    Following continued inaction from the Chairman, on June 27, 
2018, during a health subcommittee markup, I offered an 
amendment to H.R. ___, the Pandemic and All-Hazards 
Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2018, which stated that it 
is the sense of Congress that:
          (1) The Secretary of Health and Human Services should 
        consult with such public health officials as may be 
        necessary to determine whether the separation of 
        children from their parent or guardian as a result of 
        the Trump Administration's ``zero tolerance'' policy is 
        a public health emergency;
          (2) The Committee on Energy and Commerce of the House 
        of Representatives should hold at least one hearing to 
        examine the current status and welfare of those 
        children who have been separated from their parent or 
        guardian as a result of the Trump Administration's 
        ``zero tolerance'' policy and the long-term 
        implications of such policy on the health of such 
        children; and
          (3) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, the 
        Director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, and the 
        Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response 
        should be called as witnesses for such hearing.''
    Collectively, every Republican Member of the Health 
Subcommittee who cast a vote on my amendment opposed it. My 
amendment failed on a roll-call vote.
    Given the Chairman's failure to schedule a hearing and the 
Administration's failure to provide sufficient answers to the 
questions raised, on July 3, 2018, I introduced H. Res. 982 in 
order to obtain documents and other information on the health 
and welfare of children forcibly separated from their parents 
or guardians as a result of the President's ``zero tolerance'' 
policy, as well as the long-term implications of this policy on 
the health of those children.
    One day before the Committee's consideration of H. Res. 
982, on July 11, 2018, I received the first and only written 
correspondence from HHS on this issue. HHS's response failed to 
answer most all of my questions, including details on the 
process HHS and DHS are utilizing to facilitate reunification. 
Additionally, HHS's written response provided no details on the 
long-term health implications of these children or how HHS will 
ensure reunification if a parent is deported without his or her 
child. These questions remain unanswered.
    At the markup of H. Res. 982, I once again called on 
Chairman Walden to hold a hearing on this matter and presented 
numerous reasons why this resolution should be reported 
favorably. First, I explained that the Resolution was neither 
premature nor overbroad, as the inadequate responses from the 
Administration to my multiple requests on this issue warranted 
the Resolution. While the Resolution requested copies of all 
documents and other records, given the importance of this issue 
and the immense need for oversight of the Administration's 
actions and response, the breadth of this request is 
appropriate. Additionally, my resolution was not premature as 
the Administration was asked to respond in writing to each of 
my questions not later than July 6, 2018.
    I noted further that my resolution only covers categories 
of information that are already in the possession of the 
President or HHS Secretary and nothing in the Resolution 
threatens any basis upon which the President can assert 
Executive Privilege on legally cognizable grounds. The 
Resolution was also drafted in the proper parliamentary form to 
be respectful to the Constitutional separation of powers 
    During debate of H. Res. 982 Representative Matsui stated 
that ``Congress has the responsibility to hold the President 
and his administration accountable for this disaster.'' She 
went on to stress that ``the government did this, we have to 
find out why, and where the children are going to be. That is 
up to us as Congress, we are elected. We are elected 
representatives of our constituents and it is up to us to 
really learn what happened.'' Additionally, Representative 
Sarbanes noted that ``This is a classic case of missing in 
action'' and emphasized that the topic ``falls squarely within 
the jurisdiction and responsibility and obligation of the 
    Unfortunately, the Committee ordered H. Res. 982 reported 
without recommendation. As a result, this Committee will not 
gain access to critical information required by the Resolution.
    This information would have enabled the Committee to 
conduct essential oversight of the Administration's actions and 
ensure the Committee has the documents it needs to understand 
the implications of the ``zero tolerance'' policy. The 
Administration's failure to provide sufficient information in 
response to my requests, coupled with the Chairman's failure to 
hold a hearing on this matter, has left Congress in the dark on 
the Administration's actions and response, and as a result the 
Committee cannot effectively oversee the Agencies responsible 
for this policy.
    The health and welfare of the children impacted by the 
Trump Administration's ``zero tolerance'' policy must be 
evaluated immediately.
    My resolution of inquiry is ripe for action. H. Res. 982 is 
straight-forward and entirely reasonable in what it asks of the 
President and directs the Secretary of HHS to provide to our 
Committee and the House of Representatives. For better, far 
more than worse, family unification is vital to all of as 
individuals and to our physical and mental health and overall 
well-being. Regardless of one's citizenship status or the 
country from which they are migrating to the United States, 
happy and stable families are undeniably essential to becoming 
and staying healthy. For that reason alone, separating children 
from their families, regardless of whose policy it is or the 
objectives behind that policy, is suspect on its face and must 
be balanced by through our input, as a separate and co-equal 
branch of the federal government. Our Committee should not 
allow or tolerate further delay by this Administration in 
providing answers to our questions or soliciting our advice and 
reactions regarding this unabated crisis.
    In order to perform our sworn duties as elected 
representatives and leaders, we must convene an oversight 
hearing as soon as possible. For these reasons, H. Res. 982 
should have been favorably reported.
                                   Frank Pallone, Jr.,
                                           Ranking Member.