These are the 15 states that received the most unaccompanied minors from the border

(The Center Square) – Of the 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories that received unaccompanied alien children (UAC) primarily from the southern border, 15 received more than 10,000 since 2015.

Since 2015, the most UACs have been sent to Texas (82,391), California (68,249), and Florida (60,192). Rounding out the top ten were New York (47,982), Maryland (32,324), Virginia (31,391), New Jersey (31,323), Georgia (23,160), North Carolina (21,772), and Tennessee (20,715). Rounding out the top 15 were Louisiana (14,588), Massachusetts (13,877), Alabama (10,760), Illinois (10,755), and Pennsylvania (10,412).

In fiscal 2015, the federal government began reporting UAC data through the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is responsible for their care. ORR is housed within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Service’s Office of the Administration for Children & Families.

By fiscal years, the numbers are slightly different with some states seeing increases in the last few years. In fiscal 2023, Texas, California and Florida received the most, as they have every year, of 16,394, 11,121, and 10,542, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 in fiscal 2023 were New York (8,477), New Jersey (5,363), Georgia (5,065), Maryland (4,950), Virginia (4,833), North Carolina (4,766) and Tennessee (4,568), according to ORR data.

For some states, the fiscal 2023 number represents 20% or more of the total they received since 2015 or dwarfed previous years. In fiscal 2020, for example, Virginia received 770 UACs, Tennessee 510, and Georgia 559 by comparison.

The total number of UACs sent to sponsors by county for fiscal 2023 is no longer on the ORR or HHS websites as of Dec. 14. The data appears to have been removed after The Center Square first reported on it on Nov. 20. Only UAC county data from January to March 2023 is on the HHS website, which was last updated May 11 and several hyperlinks are broken. A spokesperson from ACF said they are working to correct the problem.

Total UAC county data for fiscal 2023 was previously published on the ORR website. The complete data enabled The Center Square to report on the number of UACs sent to sponsors in 22 counties in Texas, 21 counties in California, and 29 counties in Florida.

The Center Square also discovered discrepancies in ORR published data between the number of UACs ORR sent to sponsors in a state and its counties. The difference is reportedly because not all UACs are sent to sponsors; many are sent to facilities managed by non-governmental organizations receiving tens of millions of dollars from federal and state governments. They are also being sent to counties not on the list because ORR states it is only publishing the counties where 50 or more children were sent.

From March 2003 to July 2022, ORR says it has cared for more than 409,550 children nationwide. The overwhelming majority arriving are males by a roughly 70-30 split, according to ORR data.

However, when including the most recent fiscal 2023 data, ORR was responsible for placing 582,465 UACs in all 50 states since 2015. It sent another slightly more than 2,500 UACs to Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands over the same time period.

According to a federal law passed in 2003, “When a child who is not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian is apprehended by immigration authorities, the child is transferred to the care and custody of” the ORR. Federal law requires ORR to provide these children with food, shelter, and medical care and release them “to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings.”

Federal and state lawmakers have raised concerns about ORR’s oversight and care of the children once they are in the custody of sponsors and HHS-contracted facilities. Multiple federal and state investigations have found serious deficiencies of ORR oversight, including allegations of sexual abuse of children in HHS/ORR-contracted facilities and losing track of UACs once they are in the U.S.

At the state level, a Texas-based group has called on the Texas Legislature to enact reforms requiring minimum standards for facilities housing UACs. A Florida grand jury found that ORR was “facilitating the forced migration, sale, and abuse of foreign children. This process exposes children to horrifying health conditions, constant criminal threat, labor and sex trafficking, robbery, rape and other experiences not done justice by mere words.”

In response, the Florida legislature enacted several reforms to increase penalties for human trafficking and oversight of those working with federal agencies to house and transport UACs in Florida. Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody led a delegation of AGs imploring Congress to pass legislation to respond to multiple border security issues.

U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., attempted to hold the head of the ORR responsible by at least eliminating her salary. Instead, 45 Republicans joined Democrats to defeat him.

Republican U.S. senators have also demanded answers from the heads of ACF and ORR about unaccounted-for UACs, allegations of abuse, and lack of accountability. In a recent letter outlining their opposition to current policies they said, “ORR does not even consider a sponsor’s criminal record, current illegal drug use, history of abuse or neglect, or other child welfare concerns’ necessarily disqualifying to potential sponsorship.

“In effect, ORR accepts a sponsor’s representations almost entirely on face value” and is abdicating its responsibility to protect UACs in its custody “from harmful behavior by poorly vetted, potential criminals.”

In fiscal 2022, ORR received $5.5 billion in taxpayer funds to oversee the care of more than 127,000 children nationwide.

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