US Government Placed 383 Unaccompanied Minors in Orange County in 2022
US Government Placed 383 Unaccompanied Minors in Orange County in 2022

By Cara Ding

Hundreds of children who crossed the border illegally by themselves were sent by the federal government to live with sponsors in Orange County, New York, in the past year, according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) data.

The number of unaccompanied minors placed in the county has grown to 383 from fewer than 50 in 2020. 

In the Hudson Valley region, Westchester County saw the most placements last year, at 582, followed by Rockland and Orange counties.

By law, the HHS has temporary custody of unaccompanied minors before placing them with vetted sponsors. Unaccompanied minors are children younger than the age of 18 with no lawful status and no parents or legal guardians to care for them in the United States.

Most were referred to HHS by the Department of Homeland Security after being apprehended at the border. 

Nearly 129,000 unaccompanied minors came into HHS care in the fiscal year 2022, which covers the period between October 2021 and September 2022. 

More than 60 percent were boys, including about half from Guatemala. 

In fiscal year 2021, the number of unaccompanied minors under HHS care surged almost eightfold to about 122,700. 

Unaccompanied minors play soccer at a Department of Health and Human Services-run holding facility in Carrizo Springs, Texas, on March 24, 2021. (Pool)

HHS spends about $290 per day to care for an unaccompanied minor in an established facility, according to a previous Epoch Times report

The Office of Refugee Resettlement, an HHS agency tasked with caring for the children, operates a network of 300 licensed facilities and programs in 27 states. Services provided include classroom education, health care, recreation, vocational training, access to legal help, and family reunification.

When emergency facilities must be set up in a short time frame to deal with sudden influx, the daily cost per child can rise to $775. 

As of March, the average stay of unaccompanied minors under HHS care is 25 days, after which they’re sent to live with vetted sponsors in different parts of the country.

Most sponsors are parents or relatives of the children, according to HHS. The Epoch Times previously reported on the potential lax vetting of sponsors based on the accounts of a whistleblower.

While residing with a sponsor family, unaccompanied minors are entitled to public education, according to the U.S. Department of Education. 

Local school districts may require residency proof but must not ask about immigration status. 

Orange County Airport in Montgomery, N.Y., on Oct. 11, 2022. (Cara Ding/The Epoch Times)

Last fall, several federally chartered flights carrying unaccompanied minors landed at the Orange County Airport without advance notice to local officials.

In one case, an alert citizen called 911, triggering responses from sheriff’s deputies, who pulled over the bus that picked up the children and questioned the adults aboard. 

The adults wouldn’t give details of the trip; one claimed that what they were doing was “classified,” according to Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler.

Soon, a federal official arrived and told local officials that the children were flown from Texas and that it was a legitimate federal operation. 

County Executive Steve Neuhaus told The Epoch Times in a previous interview that he hoped for more transparency in federal operations for better local assistance.


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