Number Of Migrant Children In Mecklenburg County

CHARLOTTE, NC — Local immigration attorneys argue President Donald Trump missed the real border crisis in his State of the Union Address.

They say the problem is, government policy is not equipped to track the number of children crossing the border and separated from parents.

The government says it has moved 7,214 migrant children to North Carolina over the past six years. To see the numbers by state, click here.

131 of them came to Mecklenburg County from October through December of 2018. To see the numbers by county, click here.

“I can think of three times where I’ve had a social worker follow up with me on that child,” said Lisa Diefenderfer.

Diefenderfer is an immigration attorney in Charlotte for hundreds of these children.

“They are not keeping up with it. The kid is getting released, and then it’s out of their hands,” said Diefenderfer.

The latest numbers come from the Office of Refugee Resettlement which tracks the number of kids who cross the border without parents. They are alone or with someone who is not a guardian.

“That means that these kids went somewhere in the county. They went with, I mean, it could be family members, it really could be. It could be a parent it could be sister, a cousin, sometimes a family friend. They’re released to someone who is approved to take them. What’s going to happen now is those kids are going to basically live their life and wait for a court date,” said Diefenderfer.

The Office of Refugee Resettlement does not track those border control separates from their parents. No government entity tracks that number. It does not exist.

“It’s clear that there is not a good system in place for even getting these kids placed with someone, let alone what happens after the fact,” said Diefenderfer.

This was happening before President Trump.

Attorneys and judges agree the Trump Administration’s zero tolerance policy separated more families and slowed the asylum process. It got rid of administrative closure.

They say the administration made a decision to change who can seek asylum.

The administration says reuniting all families is likely impossible.

“They didn’t have a plan to deal with it in the first place. I think they thought this is going to be a scare tactic to stop people from coming across the border. If you think you’re going to get ripped away from your child then you maybe won’t come,” said Diefenderfer.