The federal health department’s refugee office — an office that’s garnered attention for blocking an undocumented teen’s abortion, failing to reunite migrant families the administration has separated, and contracting with detention facilities with grave abuses — has removed its staff directory from its website.
Email addresses and phone numbers for 22 members of the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s (ORR) leadership were taken down and not replaced, likely between October and December 2017, according a report published Tuesday by the Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project. This includes the email address for ORR Director Scott Lloyd.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) confirmed to ThinkProgress that the page was removed October 23, 2017. Now people seeking to contact the staff can only do so by emailing a general number and email at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), parent of ORR.
“[T]he website was reorganized as part of an overall ACF update, designed to get individuals with questions to email mailboxes and phone numbers that are regularly monitored,” HHS Spox Caitlin Oakley told ThinkProgress via email. “Any suggestions that there was a correlation between this action and the ‘zero tolerance’ policy would be totally inaccurate.”
The removal appears to have been around the same time that Scott Lloyd tried to stop detained migrant teens from getting abortions. In mid-October, news broke that Lloyd personally intervened to try to persuade pregnant girls in ORR custody. ThinkProgress asked the HHS spox about the timing, but the official only responded with the aforementioned comment.
Later, revelations about how the office blocked teens against their will, with “ad hoc decision making,” surfaced through court documents released by the Americans Civil Liberties Union. Eventually, prominent liberal groups like Planned Parenthood demanded that Lloyd resign.
Scott Lloyd & other Trump-Pence admin officials are willing to put our health, lives, and rights at risk to further their own extreme agendas.
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) December 20, 2017
The office is under intense criticism again for its handling of family reunification. ORR wasn’t able to reunite families the Trump administration separated as part of its “zero tolerance” immigration policy by a court-mandated deadline last month, so other health offices were tagged in. Instead of Lloyd, Commander Jonathan White with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response is now leading family reunification efforts.
Members of Congress have repeatedly called for Lloyd to resign, including Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA).
“Under Scott Lloyd’s leadership, an office tasked with caring for young, vulnerable women in our country’s custody has been turned into an ‘ad hoc’ testing ground for the Trump-Pence plan to interfere with women’s most personal health care decisions and take away women’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion,” Murray, ranking Democrat on the Senate Health Committee, said in a statement.
The Sunlight Foundation’s Web Integrity Project has been documenting website removals. Recent reports include how HHS’ Office on Women’s Health removed a webpage dedicated to breast cancer and stripped multiple LGBTQ health resources.