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Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.) on Monday said there was “no reason” for immigration officials to misplace and lose nearly 1,500 immigrant children who crossed over the United States’ border alone.
“There should be a way to track these people,” Rice said during an interview with CNN. “They know where they’re going. They don’t just release people into the ether. There is no reason for this to happen.”
Rice continued, blasting federal authorities for not taking appropriate care of “defenseless kids.”
“These are the defenseless kids who are fleeing violent circumstances in their home countries coming here to be taken care of and we are losing them,” she said.
The Democrat also blasted lawmakers for being unable to come to an agreement on immigration when several pieces of legislation have been crafted and are ready for consideration.
Rice specifically mentioned the conservative Freedom Caucus, which she said was “holding Paul Ryan [R-Wis.] hostage” and preventing him from supporting immigration reform bills.
“We have bills right now in Washington, D.C. that if they were brought to the floor of the house, they could pass. It would address immigration issues, it would address DACA, border security,” Rice said. “It would figure out how to be strong at the border.”
“I think he is feeling pressure from the Freedom Caucus,” she continued, speaking about Ryan. “They support one particular bill that does not have the support of even moderate Republicans, so when I hear people say this is all the Democrat’s doing, we literally have no control over anything.”
Watch the video below:
“There's no reason for this to happen,” says Rep. Kathleen Rice of the nearly 1500 immigrant kids who have been lost track of. “We're talking about children here. These are defenseless kids who are fleeing violent circumstances ... and we're losing them” https://t.co/Mb1Dl28KwO pic.twitter.com/sQFbQJpxB5
— New Day (@NewDay) May 28, 2018
Steven Wagner, a top official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), first reported that loss of the children during a meeting discussing the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) last month, according to CNN.
In his testimony, Wagner stated that ORR could not locate 1,475 immigrant children who it had placed in the care of sponsors. Twenty-eight other immigrant children ran away and have not yet been located. Even so, he said HHS was not “legally responsible” for the children once they are placed with the sponsor.
“I understand that it has been HHS's long-standing interpretation of the law that ORR is not legally responsible for children after they are released from ORR care," Wagner said.
The Trump administration has faced large public criticism for the loss of the children, with celebrities, lawmakers, and citizens speaking out on Twitter using the hashtag “#WhereAreTheChildren.”