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Unaccompanied Alien Children Released to Sponsors by County

Published: September 27, 2019

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 FY 2020 (since October 1, 2019) as of November 30, 2019. This data covers 17 counties and county equivalents nationwide and comprises 1,790 of the 5,109 total children released to sponsors in this period. ACF will update this data each mont. See the state-by-state data.

State County

Total Number of UC Released to Sponsors in FY20
(thru NOV 19)

CA Alameda County 57
CA Los Angeles County 233
FL Miami-Dade County 84
FL Palm Beach County 50
MD Montgomery County 85
MD Prince George's County 95
NC Mecklenburg County 51
NJ Essex County 74
NJ Union County 58
NY Kings County 79
NY Nassau County 66
NY Queens County 148
NY Suffolk County 105
TX Dallas County 103
TX Harris 346
TX Travis County 73
VA Fairfax County 83


*For more information, please read ORR’s reunification policy.

Last Reviewed: December 20, 2019