Dec. 12 (UPI) — Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have arrested 170 undocumented adults seeking to sponsor migrant children in custody of the federal government, the agency said Tuesday.
Agents conducted background checks, including fingerprinting, from early July to November on potential sponsors seeking to take in unaccompanied migrant children under the care of the Department of Health and Human Services, ICE said.
Of those arrested, 109 did not have a criminal record, the agency said. ICE didn’t specify the crimes of the 61 arrested.
Just less than 80 percent of people ICE screened during the sponsorship process weren’t in the country legally, the agency said.
In September, 41 people who had similarly tried to sponsor migrant children were arrested.
Undocumented residents face deportation if arrested.
President Donald Trump authorized immigration authorities to examine the criminal background and legal status of anyone who wants to sponsor unaccompanied migrant children — usually parents or close relatives already in the United States — and any other adults living in their home.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who introduced a bill in the Senate to prohibit ICE from using information in backgound checks to enforce immigration laws, posted on Twitter on Tuesday: “A natural consequence of these arrests is that these children have nowhere to go.”
In the past, the Department of Health and Human Services has housed unaccompanied, undocumented immigrant children crossing into the United States but they typically were released into the custody of a qualified adult.