Three members of Connecticut's congressional delegation have been denied access to visit migrant children being cared for in the state on behalf of the federal Department Health and Human Services.
Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and 2nd District Representative Joe Courtney had announced their intention to visit Noank Community Support Services in Groton, which contracts with HHS, and where at least one child separated from their family at the border is known to be located.
But Friday, they announced that the federal government had denied them access to the children, although they were able to meet with staff at the facility.
"We are dismayed that HHS seems to be more concerned about stopping congressional oversight than the care of these children," the two senators said in a joint statement. "How can this country know that these kids are being reunited with their parents if the whole process is kept secret from Congress and the public? This denial of access to a facility in our own state is outrageous, and we will keep doing everything we can to support Noank and to reunite these kids with their families.”
Courtney spoke with Connecticut Public Radio after the visit.
"They gave us a very good brief in terms of the program and the conditions, and they had a slideshow for us," he said of his meeting with the staff.
The facility has been in operation since 2014, and has also cared for unaccompanied children that have come across the border. Courtney said he understands that the privacy of the children is important, but he will continue to pursue proper congressional oversight.
"We are going to continue to push HHS to try and see if that's possible," he said. "This is government policy, this is government funding. This is something that Congress has a major involvement with, so to the extent that you can learn more, I think it's just better."
Courtney said the focus must be reuniting children with the parents they were separated from. "HHS is just not moving in terms of getting these kids reconnected," he said.