As part of the settlement, the government also agreed to quickly release detained children. To bypass Flores and detain adults who were traveling with children, the Trump administration separated families at the border. When this policy drew immense backlash, the administration produced regulations to replace Flores, but a federal judge ultimately rejected the effort.
Despite the Trump administration’s antipathy toward the colony, it nevertheless respected Flores’ food and water needs. Inspector General reports in 2018, 2019 and 2020 found that all Border Patrol facilities visited by investigators had infant formula available. A 2019 Customs and Border Protection press release also noted that the facilities provided a formula.
Congress itself has explicitly cited infant formula in the funding of customs and border protection legislation. For example, lawmakers gave the agency $40.2 million in 2019 for “goods like food, infant formula, and diapers.”
Like most government agencies, Customs and Border Protection purchases supplies in bulk, usually months or years in advance. For example, the agency awarded a multimillion-dollar contract to a food distributor in 2015 for five years of meals for migrant children detained in the Rio Grande Valley sector.
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Customs and Border Protection did not respond to questions about its formula supply process. But the agency said in a statement that “ensuring that migrants, including children and infants, in our care have their basic needs met is consistent with this administration’s commitment to ensuring safe, orderly and humane at our border”. The agency, according to the statement, “complies with all applicable regulations for the purchase of products used in CBP facilities.”
Steven L. Schooner, a professor of government procurement law at George Washington University, was skeptical of the effect of agency purchases on the current infant formula supply.
“I am extremely confident that any volume of formula purchased by DHS/CBP is statistically equivalent to zero in terms of market share,” he wrote in an email, referring to the agency and the Department. internal security. “Indeed, I would be amazed if the government bought a large volume.”