New data shows that the government cannot get in contact with thousands of migrant children that were released from their custody.
Information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act found that nearly one-in-three 30 day follow-up calls to the children, who were released to relatives or sponsors, went unanswered from January to May of this year.
The purpose of the calls is to determine if the children are safe, still residing with their sponsor, and are enrolled in school. With a large number of children unreachable, the Biden administration is facing questions about their ability to adequately protect the children from the horrors of sexual abuse and human trafficking.
“This is very dismaying,” Mark Greenberg, a former Obama administration official said about the numbers. “If large numbers of children and sponsors aren’t being reached, that’s a very big gap in efforts to help them.”
Over 65,000 children illegally crossed over the border during the five-month period, and 32,000 of them were released, but the Department of Health and Human Services made only 14,600 follow-up calls. Nearly 5,000 of the call recipients did not answer.
In March and April, there were twice as many children released from government custody as there were check-in calls in May, which translates to only half of the kids released getting a follow-up call from the government.
An HHS spokesperson defended the agency’s efforts. “While we make every effort to voluntarily check on children after we unite them with parents or sponsors and offer certain post-unification services, we no longer have legal oversight once they leave our custody.”
An internal email from the Justice Department on July 21 warned that the missing children might be being exploited by labor traffickers.
“Some of these situations appear to involve dozens of unaccompanied minors all being released to the same sponsor and then exploited for labour in poultry processing or similar industries without access to education,” DOJ Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit director Hilary Axam wrote.