Thousands of unaccompanied minors remain detained a week out from the deadline for the Trump administration to reunite children with their parents.
The Office of Refugee Resettlement says 453 children have been resettled in Alabama this year through April. It isn’t known how many since then. Children released from detention are placed into foster care shelters or with relatives who are approved as sponsors.
The problem is, many relatives are afraid to come forward to take in these children. That’s because they’re required to disclose their immigration status to private resettlement agencies and the Department of Homeland Security.
Isabel Rubio, director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama, says relatives are still worried. “People are concerned that if their information is sent to the Department of Homeland Security that they are at higher risk for deportation because now immigration knows exactly who they are and where they live.”
The administration says collecting the information is a way to vet members of the household for criminal history or prior sex offenses. Officials say it also closes loopholes in child trafficking.
Rubio says if relatives of unaccompanied minors do not come forward, children are likely to be detained longer, or stay in foster care while they await immigration hearings.
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BirminghamWatch and Alabama Public Radio station WBHM have partnered to share original reporting.