The United States Government is caring for approximately 180 unaccompanied Afghan children according to a Monday (Sept 13) report from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Afghan American and Muslim aid organizations.
As the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, CAIR seeks to ensure that the rights and wellbeing of all unaccompanied Afghan children in U.S. custody are being upheld and protected, a CAIR press release said on Wednesday.
Following President Biden's withdrawal of American troops, personnel, civilians, and Afghans that worked closely with the United States or Afghan government, the United States government has encountered approximately 500 unaccompanied Afghan children, uniting more than 300 children with a vetted family member or caretaker. ORR reports that they continue to work toward safe reunifications for the remaining approximate 180 children in U.S. care.
To better respond to the high volume of questions and concerns ORR has received from Afghan and Muslim Americans about the status of the unaccompanied Afghan children in U.S. custody, ORR has provided CAIR, Afghan American and Muslim aid organizations several infographics to publicly share.
The CAIR press release said it will continue to monitor the situation, provide community updates on the status of unaccompanied Afghan children and opportunities for local Muslim communities to support and welcome them.
On September 8, CBS News quoted the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as saying that the federal government is currently caring for more than 100 Afghan children who arrived in the U.S. without their parents.
While the vast majority of Afghan evacuees arriving in the U.S. this summer have been families and adults, some evacuated children have been entering the country without their parents, prompting U.S. immigration authorities to designate them as unaccompanied minors.
The "majority" of those children have been quickly reunited with non-parental relatives who were also evacuated and relocated to the U.S., HHS said. Others who don't have family in the U.S. will remain in the custody of HHS' Office of Refugee Resettlement until they turn 18 or a suitable sponsor can be located.
As of August 26, 34 unaccompanied Afghan children had been referred to the refugee office, CBS News reported at the time. Last week, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the U.S. expects more unaccompanied children to arrive in the future.
Since August 17, approximately 48,000 Afghan evacuees deemed to be at-risk of being harmed in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan have been allowed to enter the U.S., according to DHS figures. Thousands of other evacuees, including dozens of unaccompanied children, remain at military sites in Europe and the Middle East awaiting processing.