1500 Missing Immigrant Youths and the #WhereAreTheChildren movement; Explained.

Earlier this week a story broke, alleging that there are currently 1,500 immigrant children that the US can not account for.  A #WhereAreTheChildren movement has been circling social media, demanding accountability and answers. There seems to be a uniformed consensus that this number is outrageous and unacceptable.

The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children averages that 531,928 children are missing right now. That doesn’t include the 1,500 missing immigrants.

Cnn reported that Steven Wagner, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services, gave testimony “during the last three months of 2017, the ORR lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children”.  (ORR) refers to The Office of Refugee Resettlement Agency.  The agency responsible for unaccompanied immigrant children.

According to ORRS’ website http://www.acf.hhs.gov/orr/programs/ucs

  • March 1, 2003, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, Section 462, transferred responsibilities for the care and placement of unaccompanied alien children FROM from the Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service TO the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
  • ORR:
    • has cared for over 175,000 children,
    • Was established by the
      • Flores Agreement in 1997,
      • the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (and its re-authorization acts)
      • The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Re authorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005 and 2008.
      • ORR promptly places unaccompanied child in “the least restrictive setting and in the best interests of the child.
      • Consider “danger to self, danger to the community, and risk of flight, the unique nature of each child’s situation.”
      • Incorporates clinical and child welfare placements, case management, and “release decisions that are in the best interest of the child.”
Wagner testified that ORR “reached out to 7,635 unaccompanied children to check on them. But “Are unable to determine the whereabouts of 1,475 (or 19 percent), 28 of those are assumed to be runaways.” Wagner also testified “I understand that, according to interpretation of the law, ORR is not legally responsible for those children after they are released from care”.
Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, during a Senate hearing this month, said “Similar separations happen in the US every day. Those caught crossing the border illegally will be prosecuted even if they are claiming asylum or have small children. Parents prosecuted as a result will be separated from their children in the process.” On May 7th, district Attorney General Jeff Session confirmed that statement.
President Trump tweeted, in response to the missing children outcry, for American citizens “To pressure the Democrats to end the law that separates children from parents once they cross the border.” (It was his cabinet who implemented the Zero Tolerence Policy… but, I degress.)
Regardless of the political banter, the majority of headlines currently seem more concerned about FINDING these kids.
As they should be…
Honestly, I can not think of a group of children more vulnerable or at risk for exploitation then these kids. In all reality the number of ‘unnacounted for minorts’ itself is probably larger if you were to add unreported cases.
These kids are not cattle, they are not property. They are human beings that deserve to be safe and loved, regardless of where they’re from, who they are or what their parents ‘may’ have done.
Cant We can hash everything “else” out later?
Be a decent human. Demand action and answers.
FIND THEM.
#WhereAreTheChildren
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