By Molly K. Hooper - 08/15/14 06:00 AM EDT
A Republican lawmaker says the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors sent to live with a guardian while awaiting detention trials would have a "real impact" on local schools this fall.
Earlier this week, the Education Department released a fact sheet on "unaccompanied alien children" (UAC) after "it began to receive inquiries" from local officials.
“These kids are going to school in September … put yourself in the shoes of a local school board member who might have a hundred kids in their district that they don't even know about and won't know about until the first day of school … [it] is going to have a real impact, and it doesn't sound like that's the end of it,” Mulvaney said.
Many of the 63,000 children who have been apprehended this year have been released to a sponsor to await deportation hearings. Most of them have come from Guatemala, El Salvador or Honduras.
A total of 37,477 have been released to sponsors around the country, touching all 50 states, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Shortly before Congress left for the August recess, Mulvaney and his fellow Palmetto State GOP congressional delegation members wrote to the secretaries of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services for answers as to where the 350 kids sent to South Carolina were located within the state and how their sponsors were selected, among other questions.
(Since that letter, South Carolina has received 84 additional children, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.)
Mulvaney notes that there is little Congress can do to help prepare for the influx of kids in schools due to the law.
An earlier guidance issued by the Justice and Education departments in May spelled out that UACs are entitled to a public education, regardless of their immigration status or the immigration status of their sponsor.
That point was reiterated in the Education Department fact sheet: “...when students are released to an appropriate sponsor, typically a parent, relative or family member, or other adult sponsor, while awaiting immigration proceedings, they have a right — just like other children living in their community — to enroll in local schools regardless of their or their parents’ actual or perceived immigration or citizenship status."