Fake news about 'lost' illegal alien children

USA Today has a story headlined, "The feds lost – yes, lost – 1475 migrant children."  But did they really?

Rich Lowry at National Review supplies the necessary beat down:

It's a piece that's a pretty good example of how "fake news" works – there's some factual basis for the claim, but it's exaggerated or misunderstood, and then fed into the maw of the perpetual outrage cycle, in this case about the alleged extreme carelessness and heartlessness of the Trump administration toward migrant children.

Some background: As we all know, in recent years there has been a flood of "unaccompanied children" (UAC) showing up at the border.  The U.S. government attempts to unite UAC with a parent or close relative in the U.S.  The HHS program to do this is longstanding and long pre-dated the Trump administration.

Given the size of the migrant flow, the scale of this task is enormous.  The USA Today piece cites this congressional testimony by HHS official Steven Wagner who oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) as its source. Wagner relates the numbers.

The truth is a lot less dramatic.  The majority of illegal alien children (UACs) are released into the custody of a "sponsor" – usually a relative.  Some, however, are held at detention centers, most for less than two months.

The ORR tries to keep track of the kids and their sponsors.  And this is where USA Today got its bogus number of "lost" children."

From October to December 2017, ORR attempted to reach 7,635 UAC and their sponsors.  Of this number, ORR reached and received agreement to participate in the safety and well-being call from approximately 86 percent of sponsors.  From these calls, ORR learned that 6,075 UAC remained with their sponsors.  Twenty-eight UAC had run away, five had been removed from the United States, and 52 had relocated to live with a non-sponsor.  ORR was unable to determine with certainty the whereabouts of 1,475 UAC.  Based on the calls, ORR referred 792 cases, which were in need of further assistance, to the National Call Center for additional information and services.

Since most of the kids end up with a parent or close relative (who may be illegal themselves and don't want to make contact with the government), the idea that they are "lost" because of an uncaring, evil Trump administration is ridiculous.

Of course, all the context is left out of the USA Today piece, which at one point falsely says, "the federal government has lost – yes, lost – 1,475 migrant children in its custody."  But these children weren't in HHS custody.  They were placed with sponsors that HHS vetted.  It'd obviously be better if HHS could locate all of the sponsors in its follow-up.  Some of them surely moved, and perhaps others, if they or family members are illegal immigrants, may not want to be in further contact with authorities.

I'm sure this program can be improved in all sort of ways, like all government programs.  But the root of the problem is that unaccompanied children are showing up at our border, a situation that is fraught with peril.  We should be doing all we can to stop that flow so a federal bureaucracy doesn't have responsibility for finding adults to care for them, but the same people frothing with outrage over the USA Today piece have very little interest in trying to do that.

This story has nothing to do with immigration, or the treatment of illegal alien children.  It has everything to do with making the administration look bad, even at the expense of context and the truth.

That's the definition of "fake news."

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