Under the settlement, the government also agreed to quickly release children from detention. To bypass Flores and detain adults traveling with children, the Trump administration segregated families at the border. When those policies backfired, the government drafted rules to replace Flores, but a federal judge ultimately rejected the attempt.
Despite the Trump administration’s antipathy to the settlement, it still met Flores’ food and water requirements. Reports from the Inspector General in 2018, 2019 and 2020 showed that all border police facilities that investigators visited had baby food available. A press release from Customs and Border Protection in 2019 also noted that the facilities offered a formula.
Congress itself has explicitly mentioned infant formula in the financing legislation for customs and border protection. For example, in 2019, lawmakers gave the agency $40.2 million for “commodities such as food, infant formula and diapers.”
Like most government agencies, customs and border guards buy goods in bulk, usually months or years in advance. For example, in 2015, the agency awarded a multi-million dollar contract to a food distributor for five years of meals for detained migrant children in the Rio Grande Valley sector.
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A growing problem. A nationwide baby food shortage – caused in part by supply chain problems and exacerbated by a recall from baby food manufacturer Abbott Nutrition – has left parents confused and concerned. Here are some ways to deal with this uncertainty:
Customs and Border Protection did not respond to questions about the formula purchasing process. But the agency said in a statement that “ensuring that migrants, including children and infants, under our care are met with their basic needs is consistent with this government’s commitment to secure, orderly and humane processes at our border.” to ensure.” The agency, the statement said, “complies with all applicable regulations for the purchase of products used in CBP facilities.”
Steven L. Schooner, a professor of government procurement at George Washington University, was skeptical that the agency’s purchases had any effect on current baby food offerings.
“I am confident that any volume of formula DHS/CBP purchases will statistically equal zero in terms of market share,” he wrote in an email, citing the agency and the Department of Homeland Security. “Indeed, I’d be stunned if the government bought a significant volume.”