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No, HHS officials aren’t handing out Kamala Harris’ book to migrant kids at a California facility

Officials say the children’s book was one of an assortment of hundreds donated to the Long Beach Emergency Intake Site.
Credit: AP
A sleeping area set up inside exhibit hall B of the Long Beach Convention Center, Thursday, April 22, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif., where migrant children found at the U.S.-Mexico border without a parent will be temporarily housed. The beds are in pods of 30. The center is able to house up to 1,000 children and the first children are expected to arrive Thursday afternoon. (Brittany Murray/The Orange County Register via AP, Pool)

The New York Post published a story on Friday, April 23, claiming that Vice President Kamala Harris’ children’s book “Superheroes Are Everywhere” was being given to unaccompanied minors in “welcome kits” by U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) officials at the newly opened Long Beach Convention Center Emergency Intake Site (EIS) in Long Beach, California. 

On Monday, Fox News and the New York Post again reported the claim. 

THE QUESTION

Is Vice President Kamala Harris’ book being given to unaccompanied migrant children in welcome kits at a Long Beach, California, emergency intake facility?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, Vice President Kamala Harris’ book is not being given to unaccompanied migrant children in welcome kits at a Long Beach, California emergency intake facility. 

WHAT WE FOUND

After multiple reports debunked the two New York Post articles, on Tuesday, April 27, the Post, which had temporarily taken down the two stories, republished them with corrections and added the following editor’s note to the end: 

“The original version of this article said migrant kids were getting Harris’ book in a welcome kit, but has been updated to note that only one known copy of the book was given to a child.”

Fox News also corrected and added an editor’s note to their story Tuesday, that reads, “In a previous version of this story, it was implied there were multiple copies of Harris' book available for children in welcome packs.”

On Wednesday, the Office of Communications at HHS’ Administration for Children and Families emailed a statement to the VERIFY team, saying: "The referenced book was one of an assortment of hundreds of titles donated to the Long Beach Emergency Intake Site as part of a City of Long Beach new books and toys drive. No taxpayer dollars were used to purchase Vice President Harris’ book."

Kevin Lee, the chief public affairs officer for the City of Long Beach, confirmed HHS’ statement Wednesday afternoon and went further into detail about the city’s book and toy drive. 

“The City of Long Beach, in partnership with the Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, has a citywide book and toy drive that is ongoing to support the migrant children who are temporarily staying in Long Beach at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shelter,” Lee said in an email. “The single book you reference is one of now thousands of various books that have already been donated. The book was not purchased by HHS or the City. It was a single book and was not part of a mass donation of that specific title.”

“The donated books are part of an inventory, or library if you will, at the shelter. They are not part of a set welcome kit, but rather, children are able to pick and choose what they read from the available donated inventory. Being able to make individual and personal choices on what they read, what they play with, what they wear and the like, is so important during these very challenging times for the children,” Lee continued. 

Laura Italiano, the author of the initial story published in the New York Post, announced her resignation in a Twitter thread late Tuesday, saying, in part: “The Kamala Harris story — an incorrect story I was ordered to write and which I failed to push back hard enough against  — was my breaking point.”

VERIFY
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