Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan[1] said Tuesday that children taken into U.S. custody after illegally crossing the border are not “lost” but are placed with a sponsor.

“They have been placed, in the vast majority of cases, with parents or close relatives. So when they have a sponsor, we release them to a sponsor. Therefore, they’re not lost,” Mr. Hargan[2] said on “The Hugh Hewitt Show.”

Mr. Hargan[3] said HHS then follows up with a phone call, but if the call goes unanswered, the agency sometimes may consider the child “lost.”

“The only reason why people believe falsely that the children are lost is because that sponsor does not answer the phone when we make the call after 30 days,” he said.

Mr. Hargan[4] said his agency doesn’t have much authority to followup or investigate the child’s whereabouts if calls to the sponsor are unanswered. He said they can refer the case to local authorities, but there is no set protocol.

“We don’t have the authority to go beyond that to track the children down or return them to our custody. That’s not part of the legal authorities that Congress has given us,” he said....

The issue of undocumented children entering the U.S. became a hot topic when it was reported last month that over 1,400 children had been misplaced by the government. The issue of separating parents and children who cross the border illegally has furthered that discussion, prompting President Trump to urge lawmakers to change the law.

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