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Federal officials lose track of nearly 1,500 migrant children in US

Federal officials lose track of nearly 1,500 migrant children in US
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Federal officials lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied migrant children last year after they were placed in the homes of adult sponsors, officials told the Senate on Thursday.

Limited budgets for tracking migrant children after they are placed in foster homes led to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) losing track of as many as 1,475 children who could not be accounted for after HHS officials attempted welfare checks, according to an Associated Press report of the testimony.

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Between October and December of last year, HHS officials completed welfare checks on 7,635 migrant children the agency says are living with adult sponsors in the U.S. Of those 7,635 children, 6,075 were still living with their sponsors, 28 had run away, five had been deported and 52 were living with someone else.

The rest were completely unaccounted for, the agency said.

The AP reports that Republican Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanKoch-backed group launches ads urging lawmakers to reject COVID-19 relief bill White House stands behind Tanden as opposition mounts The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by The AIDS Institute - Tanden's odds plummet to lead OMB MORE (Ohio) has given HHS until Monday to deliver a time frame to Congress for improving the agency's monitoring capabilities.

“These kids, regardless of their immigration status, deserve to be treated properly, not abused or trafficked,” said Portman. “This is all about accountability.”

Other senators at the subcommittee hearing blasted HHS officials for negligence.

“You are the worst foster parents in the world. You don’t even know where they are,” said Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampCentrist Democrats pose major problem for progressives Harrison seen as front-runner to take over DNC at crucial moment Biden to tap Vilsack for Agriculture secretary: reports MORE (D-N.D.). “We are failing. I don’t think there is any doubt about it. And when we fail kids that makes me angry.”

“Given all that we learned in 2015 and 2016, it’s unacceptable that we can still be this bad at keeping track of these children,” added Sen. Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperTexas snowstorm wreaks havoc on state power grid The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Dems rest their case; verdict on Trump this weekend No signs of demand for witnesses in Trump trial MORE (D-Del.)

Officials also told senators in the hearing that while HHS is unable to locate all migrant children supposedly in the agency's care, it does assist with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in its deportation initiatives.

“DHS has worked closely with the Trump administration and members of Congress to address existing ‘loopholes’ that allow individuals to exploit our immigration laws,” said DHS undersecretary James McCament.