The U.S. government admitted to losing nearly 1500 immigrant children, leaving many furious and spawning the hashtag #WhereAreTheChildren.
CNN reported earlier this month the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is tasked with caring for immigrant children separated from their parents because of deportation, said they lost track of 1,500 young people they placed in sponsor homes. Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said the ORR isn’t “legally responsible” for those children after they’ve been sent to a sponsor family and released from ORR’s care.
The Department of Homeland Security referred more than 40,000 immigrant children to the ORR in the 2017 fiscal year. When the ORR checked on the 7,635 unaccompanied children, they couldn’t get a hold of 1,475 of them, stating they were “unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 children.” Wagner said it’s not their problem anymore.
“I understand that it has been HHS’s long-standing interpretation of the law that ORR is not legally responsible for children after they are released from ORR care,” Wagner said.
Wagner’s comments, though made a month ago, are under scrutiny again after many politicians and other public figures tweeted with the hashtag #WhereAreTheChildren demanding the government track down the children. ABC 7 reports the ORR says unaccompanied immigrant children are “especially vulnerable to human trafficking, exploitation and abuse.”