US Processes Record Number of Nearly 70,000 Unaccompanied Alien Children in 2019
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports the United States processed 69,550 unaccompanied alien children in 2019, “an increase of over 42 percent from the same time period in FY 2018”.
“By law, HHS has custody and must provide care for each [unaccompanied alien child], defined as a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and, with respect to whom, there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States”. Unaccompanied alien children include those “apprehended by immigration authorities while trying to cross the border; others are referred after coming to the attention of immigration authorities at some point after crossing the border.”
Of the 69,550, “approximately 72% of all children referred were over 14 years of age, and over 71% were boys.” Approximately 45% were from Guatemala; 18% El Salvador; and 30% Honduras.
For 2019, “the average length of [unaccompanied alien child] care was 66 days”. “As of January 30, 2020, there are approximately 3,600 [unaccompanied alien child] in HHS care.”