An official best known for attempting to unlawfully block undocumented young people from accessing abortion care is transitioning into a new role within the Trump administration.
Scott Lloyd began serving as director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in March 2017 and that same month, according to court documents, he implemented a revised policy that allowed shelters to “wield an unconstitutional veto power over unaccompanied immigrant minors’ access to abortion.” The directive explicitly prevented unaccompanied immigrant minors in ORR custody from accessing abortion care by prohibiting all federally funded shelters from taking “‘any action that facilitates’ abortion access to unaccompanied minors in their care without ‘direction and approval’” from Lloyd.
The policy gained widespread attention in the wake of the case of Jane Doe, an unaccompanied immigrant minor who obtained in the state of Texas a judicial bypass, a process requiring minors to appear in front of a judge if they want to access abortion care without parental consent. Lloyd essentially overruled Jane Doe’s judicial bypass, and the federal government fought to force the Salvadoran teen to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. Jane Doe eventually was able to access abortion care, but hers became one of several known cases of undocumented young people in ORR custody whom Lloyd attempted to block from accessing care, including in instances of rape. There is currently a preliminary injunction against the policy and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is litigating Azar v. Garza, the Supreme Court case challenging the policy.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the federal agency housing ORR, tweeted today that Lloyd is transitioning into a new role as a senior adviser to the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives, which seeks to “build partnerships between government and community and faith-based organizations.”
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The Daily Caller first reported Lloyd’s new role. In an interview with the conservative news outlet, “an HHS official familiar with Lloyd’s thinking” cited the “wild inaccuracies” of the Trump administration’s family separation policy as a primary reason for his decision to leave ORR.
Lloyd’s departure came on the heels of news that he would be writing a book about his extreme anti-choice views. As Rewire.News reported, Lloyd emerged as a staunch opponent of reproductive rights in an administration full of similar ideologues. Nothing in his background indicated he was qualified or equipped to lead ORR or to “counsel” pregnant people in ORR custody against seeking abortion care, which he admitted to doing when speaking to a christian broadcasting network.
Advocates told Rewire.News Lloyd was an ideological pick by the Trump administration as it ushers “anti-choice fanaticism” into the immigration system and that Lloyd himself was “fixated on the reproductive capacity of adolescent refugees” and behaved as “part Handmaid’s Tale, part Nazi doctor.” The former ORR director’s personal beliefs mirror those of anti-choice extremists and men’s rights activists, as evidenced by his published writings.
Dana Singiser, vice president of government relations at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that Lloyd “consistently put the health of young immigrants at risk” in order to further an “extreme anti-abortion agenda.”
“From blocking young undocumented women—including at least one rape survivor—from accessing safe, legal abortion to separating families at the border, Lloyd has permanently tainted the Office of Refugee Resettlement,” said Singiser. “Papering over his failure by moving him elsewhere in the federal government isn’t good enough. Lloyd is a national disgrace and he has proven himself unfit to serve in the administration in any capacity.”
During his time as director, both advocacy organizations and elected officials called for Lloyd’s removal from ORR. While Lloyd implemented other harmful policies, including one that subjected young people in ORR custody to prolonged detention, it was his anti-choice extremism that garnered widespread attention, signaling an emerging trend in the Trump administration to target the sexual and reproductive health of girls and women in federal custody. The Trump administration has moved away from longstanding policies and begun detaining pregnant people, subjecting them to increasingly “inhumane” treatment, while it also has considered giving individual Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents discretion over a detained immigrant’s ability to access abortion care.
Brigitte Amiri, deputy director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project and an attorney litigating Azar v. Garza, said in a statement that Lloyd imposed “anti-abortion” views on young women in his care and abused his position of power.
“The damage Scott Lloyd inflicted on the people he was charged to protect, and to the agency itself, will not be easily erased,” Amiri said, following the announcement of Lloyd’s departure. “We urge the next Congress to conduct careful oversight of ORR to ensure that ORR is following the court order ensuring that the young women in the office’s custody are able to access the care they need. We also urge Congress to conduct oversight of the Center for Faith and Opportunity Initiatives to prevent Lloyd from trampling on other constitutional protections, such as the freedom of religion, at his new post.”