HHS Official: Number of Unaccompanied Alien Children ‘Has Risen to Levels We Have Never Before Seen’

Friday, September 20, 2019
By Paul Martin

20 Sep 2019

The director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) testified Thursday that the number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) who entered the United States this year “has risen to levels we have never before seen.”

In his written testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Jonathan Hayes said, as of Monday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has referred more than 67,000 UACs to his office – the highest number in the history of the program.

Currently, HHS has less than 6,000 children in its care, but that number fluctuates each day, he said. In June, for example, the number of UACs in HHS’s care was at a high of more than 13,700.

Hayes explained further:

This decline is due to a decrease in daily referrals over the last few months, and ORR’s ability to maintain a steady high discharge rate of UAC placement with sponsors. As of July, the average length of time that a child stays in HHS’ custody is approximately 50 days, which is a dramatic decrease of over 40 percent from late November 2018, where the average length of care was 90 days.

Hayes said HHS is “deeply committed to the physical and emotional wellbeing of all children temporarily in our care.”

He added that his staff is trained in assessing and treating children who may have suffered traumatic experiences, “including those who have been separated from their parents.”

ORR staff are also trained to identify children who may have been smuggled into the U.S. and/or are victims of human trafficking.

The Rest…HERE

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