Photo: John Moore (Getty Images)

In late April, Health and Human Services official Steven Wagner told the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s subcommittee on investigations that his agency had lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied undocumented minors placed in foster homes.

Now, amid a rising chorus of voicing demanding answers from the government as to where those children are, and why they were missing in the first place, a different HHS official has offered a predictable new explanation: undocumented immigrants are to blame.

In a statement released on Monday, Health and Human Services Deputy Secretary Eric Hargan said that the minors who have not been accounted for weren’t actually “missing” at all. Instead, he insisted (emphasis mine):

These children are not ‘lost’; their sponsors—who are usually parents or family members and in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them—simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made. While there are many possible reasons for this, in many cases sponsors cannot be reached because they themselves are illegal aliens and do not want to be reached by federal authorities. This is the core of this issue: In many cases, HHS has been put in the position of placing illegal aliens with the individuals who helped arrange for them to enter the country illegally. This makes the immediate crisis worse and creates a perverse incentive for further violation of federal immigration law.

See folks, the GOVERNMENT didn’t lose track of nearly 1,500 kids. Those shifty immigrants did, all because they’re afraid of the government. And why would an immigrant be afraid of the famously immigrant-friendly Trump administration?

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I have reached out to HHS for any corroborating data to back up Deputy Secretary Hargan’s claim, and will update this story with any response.

In fact, foster sponsors who host undocumented minors are—by HHS’ own admission—pretty extensively vetted before they’re even given the children to host. As the agency puts it:

Sponsors are adults who are suitable to provide for the child’s physical and mental well-being and have not engaged in any activity that would indicate a potential risk to the child. All sponsors must pass a background check. The sponsor must agree to ensure the child’s presence at all future immigration proceedings. They also must agree to ensure the minor reports to ICE for removal from the United States if an immigration judge issues a removal order or voluntary departure order.

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So, according to Hargan, undocumented immigrants are voluntarily subjecting themselves to federal background checks, and agreeing to coordinate with ICE, but then, once all that is taken care of, are afraid of answering the telephone. Hmm.