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Voto Latino Responds to Nearly 1,500 Migrant Children Lost By Federal Agencies

Washington, D.C. – On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) informed members of Congress that the agency lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied migrant minors it placed with adult sponsors in the U.S. The majority of the children are from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. The agency has demonstrated shockingly little responsibility for the well-being of these refugees, which raises concerns that these children could end up in the hands of human traffickers or be used as laborers by people posing as relatives.  

In response, Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar, issued the following statement:

“The Department of Homeland Security and HHS have the responsibility to protect unaccompanied migrant youth, many of whom are seeking refuge from gang violence, persecution and poverty. It is reprehensible and disturbing that federal agencies do not know the whereabouts of 1,500 innocent children who face tremendous adversity after escaping the dangers of their native homeland and who were forced to rebuild their lives in a foreign country. Migrant youth often suffer from emotional trauma and face exploitation from employers, factors that put them at increased risk for human trafficking. Authorities have failed to protect our nation’s most vulnerable and must be held accountable. We demand a public investigation into the DHS and HHS, as well as urge Congress to pass stricter laws to ensure those who should be responsible never fail our migrant youth again. We will not accept broken promises and will continue to fight for those without a voice.”

Republican Sen. Rob Portman gave HHS and the DHS until Monday to deliver a time frame for improving monitoring.