Two follow-up Senate investigations in 2018 and 2020 assessed “modest steps in the right direction” but major remaining deficiencies. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Tom Carper (D-Del.) in March pressed the Biden administration to implement a series of safeguards for the placement of unaccompanied children.
Biden officials have had “very thoughtful conversations” about expediting the release to sponsors while also following up with the teenagers to ensure they’re safe, said Jennifer Podkul, vice president of policy and advocacy at Kids in Need of Defense, a nonprofit that protects unaccompanied children coming into the U.S.
But the Biden administration has “been drinking out of a fire hose since they came in,” Podkul said. “We haven’t seen it happen yet.”
“I think they’ve been so focused on how do you manage the flow of kids needing protection that they have not been able to turn to ramping up their post-release services,” she added. “But I really think that’s something that needs to be done immediately. It can’t be an afterthought.”