Lynn Johnson, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the refugee resettlement program, is conducting a “top to bottom” review of the program, three months after the migrant crisis paralyzed the agency.
The Trump administration is eyeing a shake-up of its refugee operation and scrutinizing its controversial director as President Trump steps up his call for another crackdown along the U.S.-Mexico border, Politico reports. Lynn Johnson, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the refugee resettlement program, is conducting what she called a “top to bottom” review of the program, three months after the migrant crisis paralyzed the agency. That includes examining the leadership of Scott Lloyd, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). Lloyd gained attention for his efforts to prevent teen migrants from getting abortions. Johnson’s review has taken on new urgency as Trump rails against the caravan of Central Americans heading across southern Mexico toward the U.S. border. The group has swelled to more than 5,000 people. “It’s a horrible thing. And it’s a lot bigger than 5,000 people,” Trump said on Monday. “And we got to stop them at the border.”
The refugee resettlement office came under fire last summer after the White House and the Homeland Security Department began separating families at the border. The health department was responsible for caring for separated children, and then for trying to reunite them with their families under a court order. Facing a public outcry over the children’s plight, HHS Secretary Alex Azar removed Lloyd from day-to-day operations. Azar has empowered Johnson, a longtime Colorado human services official, to make changes at the refugee office. At the height of the crisis, the HHS refugee office was caring for more than 2,000 migrant children that the Trump administration separated from their families at the border. Nearly 250 children separated at the border still remained in HHS custody as of last week. About 13,000 other migrant children also are in agency custody — the highest number ever.