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US Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Immigrant Children Last Year

US Lost Track of Nearly 1,500 Immigrant Children Last Year
Ohio Sen. Sen. Rob Portman

By    |   Monday, 28 May 2018 12:06 PM

Outrage over treatment of children taken into U.S. custody at the Southwest border has increased in the past week, highlighted by a report that federal authorities lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children in their custody, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The current outrage started with testimony from Department of Health and Human Services official Steven Wagner at a Senate committee hearing late last month that the federal agency had lost track of 1,475 children who had crossed the border with Mexico unaccompanied by adults and subsequently were placed with adult sponsors in the U.S.

From October to December 2017, HHS called 7,635 children the agency had placed with sponsors and found that 6,075 were still living with their sponsors and some others were otherwise accounted for, but that 1,475 were missing.

Although officials tried to explain this by saying it was not their responsibility to find these children after they were released from care and that adult sponsors are sometimes relatives who already were living in the U.S. and who may not be responding to contact attempts by HHS, many congressmen, including Republicans, have not accepted this.

GOP Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who is chairman of the Senate subcommittee, argue it was a matter of humanity, not simply legal responsibility, telling the Post that "These kids, regardless of their immigration status, deserve to be treated properly, not abused or trafficked. This is all about accountability."

Although these specific children were not separated from their parents at the border, Attorney General Jeff Sessions admitted that the Justice Department would begin prosecuting every person who crossed the Southwest border illegally, even if some of them could or should be treated as asylum seekers.

This means that "If you smuggle an illegal alien across the border, then we’ll prosecute you," Sessions said. "If you’re smuggling a child, then we’re going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you, probably, as required by law. If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally. It’s not our fault that somebody does that."

It appears that the administration is trying to use this new policy as a deterrent, because filing criminal charges against migrants, including parents traveling with children, would be the "most effective" way to tamp down on illegal border crossings.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly also stressed in an interview earlier this month with NPR that family separations are something that would be a "tough deterrent" to migrant parents who may be thinking of bringing their children to the border.

Earlier this year, Congressional Democrats sent a letter expressing concern about family separations, according to Vice News.

The letter stated that "Separating children from their parents is unconscionable and contradicts the most basic of American family values," and that the congressmen were "deeply disturbed" by the increasing practice, which "suggests a lack of understanding about the violence many families are fleeing in their home countries."

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Outrage over treatment of children taken into U.S. custody at the Southwest border has increased in the past week, highlighted by a report that federal authorities lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children in their custody...
immigrant kids, tracking immigrant children, us
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2018-06-28
Monday, 28 May 2018 12:06 PM
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