The Trump administration pushed back strongly against recent media claims that the Department of Homeland Security has lost track of nearly 1,400 illegal immigrant children within the U.S., in a briefing phone call Tuesday.
The story was spawned by an April 26 New York Times article that received a revival on social media in recent days. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spawned the revival by deciding to prosecute all illegal immigrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border, which de-facto separates children from their parents if the family unit crosses illegally.
“That is an inaccurate characterization of what happened,” an HHS official Steve Wagner flatly declared to reporters, explaining that after an illegal immigrant child is apprehended by U.S. authorities they are then placed with a sponsor.
Per Department of Health and Human Services protocol a call is placed to the sponsor after 30 days to conduct a welfare check on the child. “In the last fiscal year, in 14% of those calls the family did not answer the phone,” the Wagner explained, noting that this is approximately 1400 children of the 10,000 in U.S. government custody at the time.
Wagner continued that just because the call is not answered does not mean that the children are missing. “If you call a friend and they don’t answer the phone it doesn’t mean they’ve been kidnapped,” he noted, adding that the program to house the children is now costing the U.S. government approximately 1 billion dollars annually.
White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley released a similar statement Sunday evening, saying “The cruel and inhumane open borders policies of the Democratic Party are responsible for encouraging mass illegal migration, enabling horrendous child smuggling, and releasing violent MS-13 gang members into American communities,” adding “Their lawless policies spread human suffering and finance criminal cartels. These Democrat policies lead to the temporary separation of illegal alien families, because they refuse to close border loopholes that prevent those families from being swiftly returned home.”