Oregon

Children detained at border head to Oregon, Washington

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) -- A Portland nonprofit is receiving millions of dollars each year from the federal government to house and care for unaccompanied immigrant children.

According to public records, Morrison Child & Family Services received $10.8 million in fiscal year 2018 under the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program. The money was awarded for services including long-term foster car, group home services and residential staff services for unaccompanied children. The nonprofit took in $12.5 million in the previous fiscal year as well.

In an email rejecting KOIN 6 News' request for an interview, Morrison Child & Family Services Chief People and Risk Office Patricia DiNucci wrote the nonprofit is "proud" of its programs serving children.

"Spotlighting specific service populations in the media can be a detriment to all children in our care.  For some of the most vulnerable populations, privacy is paramount," she wrote. 

The organization released a statement on Thursday, saying:

We too have been shocked, horrified, and heartbroken by the change in policy and practice at our Southern border and it’s terrible impact on immigrant families.  Our mission is and remains to serve children throughout the Portland metro region and the state who need support and services regardless of where they come from.  Our staff are dedicated to providing these services day in and day out, and we thank you for your support.

Oregon is one of 17 states receiving children detained at the border. On Wednesday morning, Sen. Jeff Merkley said he didn't know where unaccompanied immigrant children were being housed in the state.

Records show that Morrison was awarded grant money from Health and Human Services as early as 2009. 

HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement, which oversees the Unaccompanied Alien Children Program, defines an unaccompanied alien child as one who has no lawful immigration status in the U.S., who is under the age of 18, and who has no parent or guardian in the U.S., or no parent or guardian in the U.S. able to take care of him or her. 

More than 40,000 children were served in this program in fiscal year 2017. Fewer than 14,000 children were served in this program by the end of fiscal year 2012, according to HHS. 

KOIN 6 News is attempting to learn the exact number of unaccompanied immigrant children being housed in the state of Oregon. HHS said the term "unaccompanied" would refer to both children who crossed the border alone, as well as children who had been separated from their families after coming into the U.S. 

Unaccompanied immigrant children are also in Washington. Gov. Jay Inslee confirmed in a press conference that nine kids detained are being held in the state.

The other states where children are heading are California, Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Maryland, Virginia, Florida and Massachusetts.


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