MIAMI – About 10 percent of unaccompanied migrant children who arrived to the U.S. from Central America were released to a sponsor in Florida so far this year, U.S. officials recently reported.
The report comes as Congress debates how to respond to the humanitarian crisis. About 57,000 unaccompanied children have arrived to U.S. since October. The undocumented kids were from Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The Administration for Children and Families were given the responsibility of placing the kids in shelters around the country. If a judge doesn't order deportation, the government agency temporarily placed kids with parents or relatives in the U.S.
"A background check is conducted on all potential sponsors, and steps are taken to verify a potential sponsor's identity and relationship to the child," an ACF report said. "In some cases where concerns are raised, a home study is done."
The ACF's Office of Refugee Resettlement recently released a state-by-state breakdown of data from Jan. 1 to July 7, 2014. The report said authorities placed 30,340 children with sponsors in the U.S.
With 3,181 children, Florida was the fourth state with the highest number of children placed with sponsors.
With 4,280 children, Texas was the state where most of the sponsors lived.
New York was the second with 3,347. California was the third with 3,150. Virginia was the fifth with 2,234.
Congressional Republicans were pushing to expedite their deportations. This was despite growing public opinion in support of treating the children as refugees if returning to Central America puts them in danger.
A new poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that about 70 percent of Americans want authorities to treat the children as refugees. About 30 percent believe the kids should be deported, the poll said.
DOCUMENTS: Unaccompanied children's services program