The Trump administration is reportedly unable to account for almost 1,500 immigrant children who were set up with sponsors after coming to the U.S. illegally.
The New York Times reported that a congressional investigation released on Tuesday found that the Department of Health and Human Services could not determine the location of 1,488 children who moved from federal shelters and were placed with sponsors.
The nearly 1,500 children that HHS cannot account for is among the 11,254 migrant children the agency had placed with sponsors this year, according to the Times.
The figures are based on follow-up calls to sponsors between April 1 and June 30, the newspaper noted, adding that the lack of knowledge about the whereabouts of about 1,500 children gives rise to fear that they could end up in the hands of human traffickers.
"As communicated to members of Congress multiple times, these children are not ‘lost,'" Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for HHS, said in a statement to the Times.
"Their sponsors — who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them — simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made.”
The findings regarding the amount of children HHS can't account for comes after the department said in April that it could not account for 1,475 immigrant children that had been transferred out of federal shelters earlier this year.
The discovery was released as GOP and Democratic senators introduced legislation intended to improve the safety of migrant children, even when they are not under HHS custody.
Among other provisions, the legislation senators introduced would order HHS to run background checks before placing a child with a sponsor.
President TrumpDonald TrumpSix big off-year elections you might be missing Twitter suspends GOP Rep. Banks for misgendering trans health official Meghan McCain to Trump: 'Thanks for the publicity' MORE's administration has faced increased scrutiny on immigration after his "zero tolerance" policy led to thousands of migrant families being separated at the southern border.