The Trump administration on Monday took exception to reports that the feds lost nearly 1,500 migrant children who came to the U.S. border without a parent or guardian.
The unaccompanied children were placed in the care of sponsor families, according to Eric Hargan, deputy secretary for Health and Human Services. Rather than being lost, he contends nearly 20% of the families could not be reached by phone a month after their placement in 2016.
The follow-up calls were to make sure the children and their sponsors “did not require additional services,” Hargan said.
Hargan suggested his agency was unable to reach some of the sponsor families because “they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities.”
“These children are not ‘lost,’ Hargan said. “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 be reached when this voluntary call was made.”
Hargan’s statement appeared to address a New York Times report from April that said the agency’s Office of Refugee Resettlement was unable to locate scores of children.
The report, despite being a month-old, went viral over the weekend. It cited a Department of Health and Human Services official telling Congress that the agency did not know the whereabouts of 1,475 migrant kids.
The agency made calls on 7,635 children. Of that number, 28 kids ran away, five were removed from the U.S. and 52 were relocated to live with a non-sponsor, the official told lawmakers.