HHS Loses Track of Alien Children; State and Local Taxpayers Pay

The federal government has lost contact with some 20,000 migrant children released from its custody. And that’s only the beginning of the problem. Through its feckless immigration policies the Biden administration is potentially putting minors at risk, while sticking state and local taxpayers with an ever-growing bill for schooling and suites of social services.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admits it could not locate nearly one in five of the 108,981 children who were handed over to sponsors in this country by the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). 

“Of course, most of those sponsors likely did not wish to talk to federal officials because they, themselves, are illegally present in the United States,” says Andrew Arthur of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS). ORR does not verify sponsors’ immigration status.

As HHS acknowledged its failure to properly track Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) through “safety and well-being calls,” the departments of Justice and Labor have launched investigations into abuse of minors by cheap labor traffickers. FAIR highlighted one such operation earlier this year.

Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., said it took five months for HHS to respond to his request for information about UACs falling between the bureaucratic cracks. “More troubling, they don’t seem that worried about it,” Biggs tweeted last month.

In addition to children who have fallen off the grid, there’s concern about the hundreds of thousands of minors who are accounted for.

The 146,000 juvenile migrants most recently tracked by HHS constitute a cohort three times bigger than the Washington, D.C., school district. CIS estimates that this influx alone costs U.S. taxpayers more than $4.6 billion annually. Tack on expenses for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program and you’re talking about real money.

“Illegal immigration by UACs may be a federal issue, but it is a state and local problem, and it is state and local taxpayers who are footing the bill for Biden’s border policies,” Arthur notes.

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