Government officials are having a difficult time protecting illegal immigrant juveniles as roughly 20 children fail to show up at their deportation hearings per day, according to the Trump administration Thursday.
More than 200,000 Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) have been released into the public in recent times, but many end up waiting for a judge’s decision or skip deportation orders, The Washington Times reported Thursday. Only 3 percent of the UAC released have been deported.
While many senators believe the children who failed to show up at the court hearings were lost, government officials said the children were not lost if under federal custody care. While some end up in dorms funded by taxpayers, the goal is to release the children to sponsors in a timely fashion.
“There are no lost children,” said Commander Jonathan White of the Public Health Service (PHS), according to the Times. “There are some families that don’t take our call. There’s a big difference.”
White said that while many individuals claimed their own children, some returned “to the shadows” because many were residing in the country illegally and felt that they had reasons to fear officials, CNN Politics reported.
His response came after Health and Human Services (HHS) found 28 children had run away and the whereabouts of more than 1,400 children were unknown after making over 7,000 phone calls between October and December 2017, CNN Politics reported. (RELATED: Unaccompanied Minors At The Border Could Outnumber Troops At Air Force Base)
Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who is also chairman of the Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, is looking into the matter and believes there are lost children. He wants updates within two weeks.
Around 80,000 cases are pending with more cases being added. It takes a median time of 480 days to close a case, according to CNN Politics.
HHS Press Secretary Evelyn Stauffer told The Daily Caller News Foundation that caring for unaccompanied children has some stages.
“The first is to create a safe and healthy environment in our shelters, one that ensures access to nutritious food, clean clothes, education, and medical services,” Stauffer said. “The second is to identify a suitable sponsor, for each child while they await their U.S. immigration proceedings. Once a sponsor has been identified, the potential sponsor undergoes a multi-step assessment process.”
While lawmakers wanted somebody to take care of the illegal immigrant children, both the Obama and Trump administrations have said government responsibility ends when the children are released, the Times reported.
White, additionally, said a “national child welfare system” would need to be in place, which would require rewriting the law and lots of money. While lawmakers were working on rewriting the law, they were not looking forward to finding the funding, according to the Times.
TheDCNF reached out to PHS and Portman for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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