Religious Exemption for Organizations that Provide Federally Funded Services to Unaccompanied Children
On December 24, 2015, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration of Children and Families division, published an interim final rule as part of the "Standards to Prevent, Detect, and Respond to Sexual Abuse and Sexual Harassment Involving Unaccompanied Children." Although AU does not take a position on the underlying program, we submitted comments opposing the proposed rule's overly broad religious exemption. The exemption would allow faith-based organizations accepting federal contracts and grants to refuse to provide health services for these unaccompanied children. AU submitted comments objecting to the overly broad religious accommodations for faith-based organizations that harm third parties – in this case immigrant children who are survivors of sexual abuse and harassment. We urged the department to strip, or at the very least narrow, the religious exemptions for faith-based organizations. We argued that organizations should not accept a grant if they will not perform the service required under the grant. Furthermore, we argued that the exemptions would harm the beneficiaries who the program is intended to support.
Status: Awaiting final rule