WASHINGTON, D.C. — Department of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson admitted Tuesday that in some cases the federal government is turning over unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors to their family members who are also in the U.S. illegally.
“These kids that come here illegally, they are law breakers already, and you place them with families, and it’s my understanding that some of these families may be illegal themselves, is that correct?” Georgia Republican Rep. Paul Broun asked Johnson in a House Homeland Security Committee hearing on the “growing problem of unaccompanied children” crossing the southwest border.
“I’m sure that’s true,” Johnson responded.
Under a Bush-era law, unaccompanied minors who are not from Mexico are detained at the border are transferred into the custody of Health and Human Services, which unifies the child with a parent, relative or sponsor in the Untied States.
Johnson explained that HHS has a process to track the children when they move with the adults under whose supervision HHS has placed them.
When asked why these people are not being deported as well, Johnson pointed to the Obama administration’s enforcement and removal priorities.
Since October more than 52,000 unaccompanied minors have crossed the border illegally, the vast majority of which have been from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
At Tuesday’s hearing Republicans on the committee blamed the Obama administration’s policies, Democrats pointed to the violence in poverty in the children’s home countries as push factors for the migration north.