Matthew Albence, executive associate director for ICE, told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee that four-fifths of the families that sponsor unaccompanied alien children (UACs) are illegal aliens themselves or have illegal aliens already living in their homes. The placement of UACs is coming under additional scrutiny after some were considered "lost" when sponsors refused to respond to placement follow-up inquiries.
"From our data that we've seen just recently, you're looking at close to 80 percent of the people that are sponsors or household members within these residents are illegally here in the country," Albence testified.
Subcommittee Chairman Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., noted that migrant children previously had to be released to a citizen or legal resident. Now the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees UAC care and placement, does not take into account the sponsor's immigration status.
He said, "We tend to lose children when they go and are placed in a home of someone who's already not legally present...and then we're surprised when they both disappear. That shouldn't surprise us...(W)e've got to find a way to be able to take care of children and not put them in a home of someone who is not legally present here but that also discourages people from saying, 'You're 14 years old, your dad is already in the United States working, it's time for you to go join him.'"
Meanwhile, on the detention side of the equation, HHS shelters for minors have hovered at about 90 percent capacity since May. Despite the court-ordered release of family units, the shelter population reached 12,800 this month according to the New York Times. The shelters housed 2,400 minors in May 2017.
"The closer they get to 100 percent, the less ability they will have to address anything unforeseen," said Mark Greenberg, who oversaw the HHS care program under President Barack Obama. "Even if there's not a sudden influx, they will be running out of capacity soon unless something changes."
The Administration recently announced it will triple the size of a temporary facility" in Tornillo, Tex., to house up to 3,800 children.
A Breitbart report notes that a judge's effort to reunite deported illegal-alien parents with their children may be failing because parents decided to let their children remain in the U.S. The judge's order requires their reunification but parents told the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) it's "too dangerous" for them to return to their home countries.
The ACLU told the court about two-thirds of the parents of 300 children from Guatemala refused reunification while 109 parents of 162 children from other Central American countries refused.
"This is not surprising to anyone," NumbersUSA's Government Relations Director Rosemary Jenks told Breitbart. "There is no question that the parents generally hope they can stay here legally with their children, but when faced with the choice -- either you are going home by yourself or with your family -- they are choosing to go home by themselves. They have clearly made this [separation] decision...The pathetic thing is that while the groups like ACLU...have been attacking [President Trump's zero-tolerance policy], they are willing for political purposes to put [migrating] children's lives in danger...These groups don't care about the children, they don't care about the parents. They care about making a political point."
Updated: Tue, Oct 2nd 2018 @ 6:00pm EDT