The United States government couldn’t account for nearly 1,500 immigrant children in 2018, However, the federal government believes that it is not ‘legally responsible’.
Steven Wagner, a top official with the Department of Health and Human Services, disclosed the number to a Senate subcommittee last month, CNN reported.
In his testimony, Wagner said that during the last three months of 2017, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children it had placed in the homes of sponsors.
He also said that the Department of Homeland Security referred more than 40,000 immigrant children to the ORR during the 2017 fiscal year.
However, Wagner said that the Department of Health and Human Services is not responsible for the children.
“I understand that it has been HHS’s long-standing interpretation of the law that ORR is not legally responsible for children after they are released from ORR care,” CNN quoted Wagner as saying.
The office is “taking a fresh look at that question,” he added.
Meanwhile, Wagner’s statement has received increased scrutiny a month after the Department of Homeland Security defended an agency policy that will result in more families being separated at the border.