By Scott Buttram
JEFFERSON COUNTY – The Office of Refugee Resettlement announced that 164 unaccompanied immigrant children have been released in Alabama, 83 of them in Jefferson County.
According to a press release from ORR, when a child who is not accompanied by a parent or legal guardian is apprehended by immigration authorities, the child is transferred to the care and custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Federal law requires that ORR feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to release them to safe settings with sponsors (usually family members), while they await immigration proceedings.
In Alabama, 81 unaccompanied immigrant children were also released in Marshall County, according to the report.
Nationwide, some 29,890 of the immigrants have been released to sponsors.
For months, immigrant children traveling alone have flooded the Southern border, many of the children coming from countries south of Mexico.
The children who have been handed over to sponsors must still face an immigration judge to determine their status.
The report says sponsors are adults who are suitable to provide for the child’s physical and mental well-being and have not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child. All sponsors must pass a background check. The sponsor must agree to ensure the child’s presence at all future immigration proceedings. They also must agree to ensure the minor reports to ICE for removal from the United States if an immigration judge issues a removal order or voluntary departure order.