Gov. Hutchinson: More than 670 unaccompanied minors from southern border have been released to Arkansas sponsors

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Gov. Asa Hutchinson says unaccompanied minors crossing the southern border are ending up in Arkansas’ care.

Hutchinson announced November 15 during his weekly media briefing that more than 670 minors have been released to sponsors in Arkansas in the past fiscal year. According to a news release from the governor’s office, this is more than double the number released to sponsors in Arkansas in the preceding years.

Hutchinson says the sponsors aren’t being vetted properly.

“They’re not doing a good job of vetting,” Hutchinson said, referring to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “They’re placing them with people who have no sense of responsibility.”

This has lead to an increase in calls to the child abuse hotline as several children have ended up in the care of the Department of Homeland Security.

“Some of the children have been abandoned and some have been living with sponsors in conditions that are deplorable,” Hutchinson said. “Under state law, DHS has an obligation and a responsibility, and everybody would want to take care of these children.”

Hutchinson and other governors have sent a letter detailing the issue to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The release says Mischa Martin, Director of the Division of Children and Family Services at the Arkansas Department of Human Services, reports she was involved in seven specific cases involving unaccompanied minors in the past month.

The release says under state law, DHS has an obligation and responsibility to protect the health and safety of children regardless of their immigration status.

Hutchinson said unaccompanied minors are not eligible for Medicaid or other benefits, so the cost of their care falls to the state.

The governor is asking HHS to meet with leaders from Arkansas and other states to explain the vetting process and to identify where the process needs to be improved, according to the release.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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