Nearly 100,000 unaccompanied minors who entered the U.S. illegally have been released into the U.S. interior since fiscal year 2016, the White House noted Tuesday.
Unaccompanied minors must be released into “the least restrictive setting in the best interest of the child” under current U.S. law. The White House noted that this policy “often results in release to the custody of family members or other sponsors living in the United States,” adding that these unaccompanied children generally remain within the U.S. and fail to appear before immigration judges.
Unaccompanied minors are not the only challenge posed to immigration enforcement authorities. Family units which arrive in the U.S. are also generally released into the interior of the U.S. under current law. “From FY16 to date, over 167,000 family units were apprehended,” the statement said, adding that there has been a 625% increase of illegal family unit apprehensions since April 2017.
The release comes ahead of President Donald Trump’s state of the union address where he is expected to call on Congress to adopt his immigration legislative framework. A key element of the immigration framework allows enforcement authorities “to provide special protections for UACs who are victims of trafficking and safely repatriate them, whatever their nationality.”