Wagner is the appearing assistant secretary for the Administration for Youngsters and Households, which is a part of the Division of Well being and Human Providers. ORR is a program of the Administration for Youngsters and Households.
Wagner stated the Division of Homeland Safety referred greater than 40,000 immigrant kids to the ORR through the 2017 fiscal 12 months.
After a keep in an ORR shelter, the vast majority of kids are despatched to stay with sponsors who’ve shut ties to the kids — usually a guardian or shut relative, Wagner stated, although some find yourself dwelling with “other-than-close family members or non-relatives.”
Between October and December 2017, Wagner advised the subcommittee, the ORR reached out to 7,635 unaccompanied kids to examine on them. However the ORR “was unable to find out with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 kids,” Wagner testified. A further 28 had run away.
That is greater than 19% of the kids that had been positioned by the ORR. However Wagner stated HHS just isn’t chargeable for the kids.
“I perceive that it has been HHS’s long-standing interpretation of the legislation that ORR just isn’t legally chargeable for kids after they’re launched from ORR care,” Wagner stated.
A request for remark from HHS on Saturday has not been returned.
The ORR has a sequence of evaluations to find out if a sponsor is appropriate to offer and care for a kid. These insurance policies have additionally been enhanced since February 2016. Among the many ORR’s practices, it evaluates potential sponsors’ relationship with the kids and conducts background checks to make sure kids are shielded from human traffickers or smugglers, Wagner stated.
Wagner’s assertion has acquired elevated scrutiny a month after the Division of Homeland Safety defended an company coverage that can end in extra households being separated on the border.
At a Senate listening to earlier this month, Homeland Safety Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stated related separations occur within the US “day-after-day.”
Nielsen stated the coverage will refer everybody caught crossing the border illegally for prosecution, even when they’re claiming they deserve asylum or have babies. Any dad and mom who’re prosecuted consequently will likely be separated from their kids within the course of.
“Our coverage is if you happen to break the legislation, we’ll prosecute you,” Nielsen stated. “You have got an choice to go to a port of entry and never illegally cross into our nation.”
CNN’s Tal Kopan contributed to this report.