New federal data show at least 350 children caught at the U.S. border this year have been sent to stay with relatives or other sponsors in South Carolina.
They are among more than 30,000 children who have been released to sponsors nationwide from Jan. 1 through July 7. That’s according to data published Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families.
“There are a lot of things that are frustrating about the situation at the border,” said U.S. Sen. Tim Scott.
Scott said his office has been left in the dark about where undocumented children are being sent to, including right here in South Carolina.
“We asked a very specific question: Are there any [unaccompanied children] coming to South Carolina or are in South Carolina? The response from the administration, HHS I think it was, was no,” Scott said.
Many children who arrive at the border come with little more than instructions sewn into their clothes, and the name of an uncle or cousin.
Federal agents don’t check immigration status, though the families or sponsors are given a criminal background check, according to the governor’s office.
Now that the children are in the state, the governor’s office said there’s no guarantee the children will return home, even though they’re given court dates to make their case for asylum.
“You can get a deportation order in your absence,” said Tammy Besherse with the SC Immigration Coalition. “It’s very hard to undo.”
Gov. Nikki Haley’s office says federal officials will not provide governors any additional information. That includes details on the children’s ages, where they’re sent in South Carolina or how they arrived.
The U.S. is grappling with a surge in unaccompanied children who have been fleeing violence in Central America and crossing into the U.S. because they believe they will be allowed to stay.