Kids Safety Network

The Government Has Lost Track of About 1,500 Undocumented Kids In Foster Care

This week Federal officials admitted that hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children placed into foster care with sponsor parents have gone missing over the past year.

In a report to the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on investigations which was obtained by the Associated Press, Health and Human Services official Steven Wagner revealed that his agency had uncovered that 1,475 children were unaccounted for.

According to Wagner’s testimony, officials with the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement started contacting 7,635 children and their sponsors this past October in order to conduct welfare checks. 

They discovered that 6,075 of those reached were still currently with the sponsors to whom they’d been assigned as they waited for their legal status to be processed. 

A few dozen had either run away, been deported, or been placed with a different family. 

However, nearly 1,500 children were simply just unaccounted for—potentially placing them at risk of being preyed upon by traffickers. 

Wagner cited the agency’s budget as a factor in being unable to provide robust tracking of the children placed in its care.

“Given all that we learned in 2015 and 2016, it’s unacceptable that we can still be this bad at keeping track of these children,” Delaware Democratic Senator Tom Carper told Wagner.

Ohio Republican Rob Portman agreed with that statement, saying “H.H.S. has a responsibility to better track these children so they aren’t trafficked or abused, and so they show up to their court hearings.”

Government data obtained by the AP, show that many of the migrant children held in this federal foster system come from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and are fleeing the gang and drug-related violence of their home countries.

While the government may not be very good at tracking the unaccompanied minors already in its care, it has gotten quite adept at creating new ones. 

Since October, over 700 children—at least 100 of which are under four years old—have been separated from their parents by Homeland Security officials upon arriving in the United States.

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