Whereabouts of 1,488 Migrant Children not Known; Lawmakers Raises Concern

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The Trump administration has lost track of 1,488 migrant children and lawmakers describe it as troubling. The children entered United States illegally earlier this year and congressional findings reveal they were placed with sponsors after leaving shelters.

Similarly, another 1,475 migrant children went unaccounted earlier after they were moved out of the Federal shelters in 2017.

The latest missing is from 11,254 children and the finding is based on follow-up calls between April 1 and June 30. Concerns are being raised as the children whose whereabouts are not known could be used as laborers by the sponsors or land in the trap of human traffickers.

The Department of Health and Human Services wipes out its responsibility for the migrant children after they are moved from the custody of office of refugee resettlement. Since 2016 it is practiced the sponsors are called along with the children 30 days after release, but just to have a check and without taking any further responsibility.

Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Caitlin Oakley however said the children are not lost, but either the sponsors did not response to their call or they were unable to be reached when the call was made.

She said, “As communicated to members of Congress multiple times… these children are not lost. Their sponsors — who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them.”

Introduced Tuesday, a legislation accompanied the findings to clarify responsibility of the Department of Health and Human Services for ensuring safety of the migrant children even when they have been moved out of its custody and handed over to the sponsors.

The legislation requires the department to conduct background checks of the sponsors before handing over the migrant children and ensure they provide proper care.

Apart from these the department would also notify state governments before shifting the children from the shelter to the custody of sponsors.

An increase in the number of immigration court judges has also been urged to help the cases proceed faster.

According to Senator Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio and the chairman of a Senate Homeland Security subcommittee on investigations, the new bill will ensure keeping track of unaccompanied minors in the United States.

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