GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Office of Refugee Resettlement reports 30,340 children who were not accompanied by a parent or guardian have been apprehended by immigration authorities in the United States this year and later placed with relatives or sponsors.
3.9 percent of those children so far were placed with relatives or sponsors in North Carolina. As of Tuesday, a total of 1,191 unaccompanied children were placed in North Carolina.
Gov. Pat McCrory raised concerns this week about unaccompanied children in the state. “This border issue has now come to North Carolina,” he said. “Since the health status of these children is unknown, do they pose a risk to other children in North Carolina?”
Sarah Ivory is the director of the Greensboro Refugee and Immigration Program for Church World Service.
The non-profit helps refugees and immigrants with housing placement, case management, employment preparation and placement and citizenship and naturalization services.
They also provide legal services for victims of violent crimes, for example.
“The idea that we have to fear some huge onslaught of children flooding into our state is really just inaccurate,” Ivory told FOX8. “I don’t think raising that level of fear is helpful to anyone.”
While she doesn’t work specifically with unaccompanied children, Ivory does work with people coming through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program. She knows the processes inside and out.
“All of those children have been screened. They received health screenings, they received vaccinations,” she pointed out.
Information on the Office of Refugee Resettlement Program website said, “We do not release any children who have a contagious condition.”
When possible, the child is transferred to the care and custody of a relative or sponsor in another state.
“Are they being put into situations where they could be used and further criminal activities or be abused in such areas as prostitution or drugs or trafficking?” McCrory questioned in a press conference about the issue.