A new analysis from McClatchy has found that the Trump administration has “likely” lost track of 6,000 immigrant children who came to the U.S. border unaccompanied by any adults.
A review of federal data by reporters Franco Ordonez and Anita Kimar found that the number of immigrant children lost by federal officials is as much as four times as high as what has previously been disclosed.
“Steven Wagner, acting assistant secretary of the Administration for Children and Families at HHS, told reporters that 14 percent of HHS calls to sponsors were not returned,” the reporters write. “But to come up with the 1,475 cases, the administration reached out to only 7,635 children and their sponsors. It placed more than 42,497 unaccompanied children with sponsors in fiscal year 2017. HHS told McClatchy it didn’t have the data of unaccounted children in a reportable format. But based on its own estimates that 14 percent didn’t return calls, some 5,945 unaccompanied children are likely unaccounted for.”
A former field specialist who worked in the Office of Refugee Resettlement until earlier this year tells McClatchy that he’s not at all surprised to learn that the government can’t account for thousands of children who have entered the country.
“You can bet that the numbers are higher,” he said of the government’s initial estimate. “It doesn’t really give you a real picture.”
Immigration advocate Frank Sharry tells the reporters that he blames ICE’s new policy of targeting immigrant children’s sponsors for deportation.
“What’s happened is that ICE has a new policy of going after sponsors,” he said. “The bigger story if not that they are losing people – it’s that ICE is terrorizing people.”