WASHINGTON (TND) — Federal funding to sponsor unaccompanied minors at the southern border reached an all-time high in 2022, yet many of those children are unaccounted for by the federal government.
The U.S. spent about $2.7 billion to sponsor unaccompanied minors, which works out to about $18,000 spent per child encountered at the border.
“This is quite simply as the law of unintended consequences of a loose border policy,” said Adam Andrzejewski, founder Open the Books. “When you can't secure your nation's border, all of a sudden, you have circumstances where there are unaccompanied minor children, those children under 18 years of age, that don't have a legal guardian that come across the border. So as a responsible nation, you have to take care of these children in a responsible way.”
Roughly 150,000 unaccompanied minors were encountered during the last fiscal year, and reports say that the government does not know the location of about 85,000 of them. There have also been reports of children being placed with abusive sponsors, who force them to work grueling jobs that violate child labor laws.
“You've got bad actors taking advantage of the situation. You've got children that we can't ensure their safety. You've got leadership in front of Congress that can't provide answers. You've got nonprofit organizations that are supposed to be providing for these children that are reaping billions and their CEOs are making more than the president of the United States,” Andrzejewski said. “And then at the end of the day, you’ve got taxpayers paying the bill. The entire system is broken.”