On March 2, 2020, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) demanded answers on reports that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was using confidential child therapy sessions notes in making deportation decisions.
The Washington Post reported on how Kevin Euceda, a young Honduran who had arrived as an unaccompanied minor in 2017, was targeted for deportation (he is 17) by ICE. ICE had been provided notes from a past therapy session when he revealed to the therapist that he had been forced into a gang when he was 12 years old. The notes were based on a confidential session.
The letter said in part, “We are concerned that practices inhibit ORR from providing the best possible care for the migrant children in their custody. Children must be able to openly share their experiences with her therapist and care providers, without the fear that they disclose will later influence their asylum applications.” When an unaccompanied minor enters the country, frequently under attempts to flee for their safety, they are under the custody of HHS via the ORR.
The two senators asked, Matthew Albence, Acting Director, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a series of five questions including their practices in using such notes, the relationship between ICE and ORR in handling young immigrants, the confidentiality of records practices, and other procedural questions.
The week before the letter, Secretary of HHS Alex Azar before the Senate Finance Committee indicated that HHS has stopped turning over such records. Several bills have been introduced in Congress to stop the practice.