Unless you have been comatose for the past week, it is highly likely that you have seen a statistic or a headline that would lead you to believe that the Trump administration has lost track of nearly 1,500 illegal immigrant children. If true, such a report would be absolutely horrifying. But as with much of what we read, quite simply, it is not true.
The hysteria was caused by partisan Democrats mistakenly linking to a 2014 article in The Arizona Republic, thinking that the photos in the article were current. Trump Derangement Syndrome led to a textbook self-own by the left. As is the case these days, the outrage outran the facts.
What is the real story?
Unaccompanied alien children (UAC) enter the country, and when they are apprehended, current law and court precedent requires that they be transferred into the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services through their Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). The law then requires the department to quickly locate a parent, relative or sponsor to take in the children.
According to HHS Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan, “approximately 90 percent of the children’s sponsors are parents or close relatives, and, historically, ORR has not tracked children once released.”
But in 2016, ORR began proactively and voluntarily calling sponsors one month after placing the unaccompanied minors with them, to inquire whether additional assistance was needed.
The statistic published in The Arizona Republic that “the feds lost — yes, lost — 1,475 migrant children,” is false.
In a recent report, 14 percent of those called did not respond. They did not answer the call. This does not mean the children are “missing.” It means the sponsor did not answer the call or return it.
Does anyone remember similar hysteria in 2016 when President Obama was in office? Of course not.
Because this is a manufactured controversy.
Immediately, Rep. Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from San Antonio, chose not to let a manufactured crisis go to waste, organizing what he called a “National Day of Action for Children.” Thousands of messages have been shared online with the hash tag, #WhereAreTheChildren.
What would Democrats want the Trump administration to do?
Actively surveil these homes where vetted sponsors take in the unaccompanied minors?
The Health and Human Services Department does not have the legal authority to return the minors back to government custody.
According to HHS, “if there’s a reason why our providers believe that the child is unsafe or that there has been a change in circumstances that they think that it’s warranted, then yes, they reach out to the local child welfare entities to get them involved on this.”
An unanswered phone call clearly does not meet the standard of a child being “unsafe.”
You may ask yourself a sensible question: Why would the national media and the Democratic Party actively mislead the public about this bogus crisis?
Because it’s at the heart of the Democrats’ turnout strategy for the midterm elections.
Democrats desperately want to take back the House, so they can investigate the Trump administration and impeach him, effectively shutting down his legislative agenda and weakening him for re-election. This is their top priority. To do this, they need high Latino turnout. Democrats must believe the only way to excite the base is to create false narratives and peddle them to constituency groups.
Here is the reality: Thousands of unaccompanied alien children are apprehended every month. This is not safe for a child and it is often the result of a human smuggling operations from Central America.
There are two separate issues: First, we should discourage unaccompanied minors from entering the U.S. illegally. Second, we should humanely and legally handle these children once they arrive here. I have no reason to believe this is not being done currently, but if it is, Congress should step in by providing oversight and changing the law.
Currently, approximately 10,000 unaccompanied children are in the system, on top of more than 100,000 who have been released into the country previously.
It is shameful that some would falsely spread conspiracy theories about the Trump administration as part of political strategy for win a few more votes in November.
• Matt Mackowiak is president of Austin, Texas, and Washington, D.C.-based Potomac Strategy Group. He’s a Republican consultant, a Bush administration and Bush-Cheney re-election campaign veteran and former press secretary to two U.S. senators. His “Mack on Politics” podcast is available on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher and on WashingtonTimes.com.
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