Approximately 1,475 migrant children have been lost by the federal government
The Trump administration recently announced a policy that would see migrant children separated from their parents if they were caught crossing the United States border illegally. Within 48 hours of those children being detained, they are supposed to be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services to be placed with a caretaker, according to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
However, in testimony given before the Senate on April 26, Acting Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families Steve Wagner said that the Office of Refugee Resettlement was not able to account for the whereabouts of 1,475 children that it had placed.
Wagner also said that ORR was exploring its responsibility to children after they were released to caretakers.
"Specifically, we are exploring the question of ORR’s responsibilities in relation to children who are released to sponsors, and whether the level of responsibility would differ depending on the child’s relationship to his or her sponsor," said Wagner.
In a separate hearing in the Senate on May 15 where Nielsen defended the separation policy, both Democrats and Republicans showed concern about its practice.
“It’s just a system that has so many gaps, so many opportunities for these children to fall between the cracks, that we just don’t know what’s going on — how much trafficking or abuse or simply immigration law violations are occurring,” said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH).
“They will be separated from their parent,” said Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), to which Nielsen responded, “Just like we do in the United States every day."