One-in-three (36 percent) of the nearly 54,000 unaccompanied children released to sponsors over the past year after their apprehension by U.S. immigration authorities have been placed in homes in three states – Texas, New York and California, according to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) data. Connecticut is now home to 570 of the children, about one percent of the total, who have been temporarily resettled between October 2014 and October 2015, according to totals compiled by Pew Research Center using Department of Health and Human Services ORR data.
Among the New England states, New Hampshire has taken in 35 children, Maine 17, Vermont has 3, Rhode Island 215, and Massachusetts 1,405. The children are placed with sponsors, often relatives, while they wait for their next court appearance in immigration court. These cases can be delayed if asylum is sought, the Pew Research Center report indicated.
Last summer’s surge in the number of children without their parents apprehended at the Southwest border overwhelmed federal resources. Many of the children were making the dangerous journey from Mexico and Central America to the U.S., with sharp increases in apprehensions among children under 12. The issue brought widespread media attention, and strong opposition and support from people throughout the nation, especially in the southwest border states.
At the time, the Connecticut Commission on Children urged Governor Malloy to reverse his denial of a request by the Obama Administration to house children in a state facility. In a July 21, 2014 letter, Commission Executive Director Elaine Zimmerman wrote:
“Recently, the Obama administration asked the State of Connecticut for assistance in hosting a number of these children within our state while their status is processed by the federal government. While we fully support your decision to not host the children at the Southbury Training Facility, or any other facility ill-equipped to house children safely, we believe that there are state, private, institutional, as well as faith-based resources in Connecticut that could respond well, through your leadership, to the President’s request.”
Since last summer, apprehensions of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border has decreased dramatically, according to published reports, from 10,508 in June alone to 2,529 in October, U.S. Customs and Border Protection data indicates.
Texas took in the highest number of unaccompanied minors, with 7,409 children placed during fiscal year 2014, which ended on Sept. 30, government data showed. New York and California each took in just under 6,000 children. These three states account for more than half (53 percent) of the nation’s Hispanic population.