August 11, 2018 Press Release

Equity Forward Responds to ORR Director Scott Lloyd’s WaPo Letter, Calling It “Cowardly” In Light of Abuse Allegations at Detention Facilities

Lloyd finally goes on the record  after 121 days in hiding, but in a “cold and indifferent” letter to the editor

08.11.18 – Yesterday, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) Director Scott Lloyd penned a letter to the editor in The Washington Post denying claims of abuse at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center (SVJC), a facility in Virginia that houses unaccompanied minors in ORR care.  Lloyd – who is not only infamous for being at the center of the child separation crisis, but also for his role in attempting to prevent unaccompanied minors in ORR care from receiving safe and legal abortion services – hasn’t been seen in public or gone on the record  in 121 days; last time Lloyd was seen in public was when he appeared on a panel with a known hate group to discuss immigration.

“Rather than show his face and answer questions about allegations of severe abuse at ORR contracted detention facilities, Scott Lloyd has chosen to hide behind his computer and defend his office with a cold and indifferent letter to the editor,” said Mary Alice Carter, Executive Director of Equity Forward.  

“The children and families ripped apart by the administration’s “zero-tolerance” policy deserve answers and the children reporting horrifying treatment at these facilities deserve action.  It is nothing short of cowardly for Lloyd to continue to evade these questions, especially as hundreds of children remain separated from their families in potentially dangerous situations.”  

“Lloyd has a long track record of showing a blatant disregard for the civil rights of those in his agency’s care, from trying to prevent young women in his custody from accessing abortion to seemingly dismissing claims of abuse from children at ORR-contracted facilities.  Lloyd must be held accountable for his role in this crisis and appear before Congress to provide answers.”

ORR — an office housed within Alex Azar’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) – has come under fire in recent weeks after reports of severe abuse at its facilities, not only at SVJC, but also at Shiloh Residential Treatment Center in Texas.  According to the Associated Press, immigrant children as young as 14  at SVJC have reported being “beaten while handcuffed and locked up for long periods in solitary confinement, left nude and shivering in concrete cells.”

Despite the fact that six Latino teens provided sworn statements detailing the abuse claims at SVJC, Lloyd resoundingly denied these claims in today’s Washington Post letter, calling assertions that ORR doesn’t have strong policies in place to combat incidents of abuse “misguided and inaccurate.”  In fact, Lloyd actually lauds the care at ORR facilities, claiming media and members of Congress have noted the “excellent care” provided.  These claims fly in the face of a recent statement from Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), whose district includes SVJC and responded to the claims in the Associated Press report by calling them  “alarming” and worthy of “a thorough investigation to uncover the truth.”   

Carter continued:  “If Congressman Goodlatte is supportive of an investigation of SVJC, he can and should call for one in Congress, not just write letters that do nothing for the safety and well-being of these traumatized children.”

Today’s letter comes on the heels of weekly ads Equity Forward has been running in Lloyd’s local  paper, the Northern Virginia Daily, calling on Congress to hold him accountable for his role in the family separation crisis.