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 (ORR). 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. These sponsors live in many states.
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.
HHS is engaging with state officials to address concerns they may have about the care or impact of unaccompanied children in their states, while making sure the children are treated humanely and consistent with the law as they go through immigration court proceedings that will determine whether they will be removed and repatriated, or qualify for some form of relief.
HHS has strong policies in place to ensure the privacy and safety of unaccompanied children by maintaining the confidentiality of their personal information. These children may have histories of abuse or may be seeking safety from threats of violence. They may have been trafficked or smuggled. HHS cannot release information about individual children that could compromise the child’s location or identity.
The following table shows county-level data for unaccompanied children released to sponsors by the counties/county equivalents where the sponsors live, where 50 or more children have been released for FY2021 (since October 1, 2020) as of June 30, 2021. This data covers 201 counties and county equivalents nationwide and comprises 48,720 of the 59,131 total children released to sponsors in this period. ACF will update this data each month. Additional data on unaccompanied children released to sponsors by county is available on the HHS website Visit disclaimer page .
|State||County||Total Number of UC Released to Sponsors in FY21 (thru June 2021)|
|CA||Contra Costa County||243|
|CA||Los Angeles County||2,375|
|CA||San Bernardino County||192|
|CA||San Diego County||204|
|CA||San Francisco County||179|
|CA||San Joaquin County||106|
|CA||San Mateo County||321|
|CA||Santa Barbara County||60|
|CA||Santa Clara County||171|
|CO||El Paso County||94|
|CT||New Haven County||184|
|DC||District of Columbia||158|
|FL||Palm Beach County||1,082|
|FL||St. Lucie County||82|
|LA||East Baton Rouge Parish||300|
|LA||St. Tammany Parish||55|
|MD||Anne Arundel County||184|
|MD||Prince George's County||899|
|MO||St. Louis County||65|
|MO||St. Louis city||64|
|NC||New Hanover County||60|
|TX||Fort Bend County||78|
|UT||Salt Lake County||86|
|VA||Newport News city||92|
|VA||Prince William County||304|
For more information, please read ORR’s reunification policy.