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Sunday, July 27, 2014 - 4:53pm
El Paso (KDBC) — 4280 unaccompanied minors were released to sponsors in Texas through July 7th, the highest number in the country, according to data from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.
Also high on the list is New York with 3347, Florida, with 3181, California with 3150, and Virginia and Maryland with more than 2000.
Unlike immigrants over the age of 18, minors are in the custody of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).
"ORR is under the Department of Heath and Human services, and they have the responsibility of overseeing the care of minors while they are in detention," said Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House.
The minors stay in ORR custody until they are released to a sponsor, usually a family member.
If there is not a suitable sponsor, the minor will stay in ORR custody, unless one of the following occurs. They can go before a judge and request voluntary departure, get granted legal relief by a judge, or if they turn 18, and custody is transferred to the Department of Homeland Security.
Ruben Garcia of annunciation house said "aging out" doesn't happen very often, but it can be a traumatic experience when it does.
"They are transferred out of the child care facility, over to the adult facility and that can be pretty traumatic," he said. The care between the two can be very different.
Which is why, he said, they often end up staying at his organization.
"We'll have an attorney call the Annunciation House and ask us, I'm going to ask to see that... that minor.. that's going to age out, might be released on recognizance and to come to Annunciation House," Garcia said.
On Friday, President Obama met with leader of Central Americans countries to discuss the influx of children, but the debate within the White House and Congress continues.
"We've got a president that's AWOL, and the President ought to get engaged in this if he actually wants something to happen," said John Boehner, Speaker of the House.
Boehner also said, the President's request for the $3.7 billion in emergency funds wont happen, unless they fix the current law to speed up the process for returning the children back to Central America.
Through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Department of Migration and Refugee Services, there is a foster care program for unaccompanied minors.
They work with the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department to provide care for the children.
For more information on the foster care program, visit the website.