On Thursday, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) proposed a rule that would end participation in a federal program sheltering Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) who enter the U.S.
According to a press release by the department, the DCF filed a proposed permanent rule that “prohibits the issuance or renewal of licenses for facilities or organizations that house Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) whom the Federal Government is resettling across the United States, including Florida, unless there is a cooperative agreement between the State of Florida and the Federal Government.”
“Through its policies, the Federal Government has made a decision to encourage the mass smuggling of minors to the southern border without their parents,” DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris said in a statement. “No government that claimed to care for children would ever tolerate this. The Federal Government’s careless policies have led to this unsafe situation, and Florida will no longer be complicit in it. By ending the State’s involvement with the UAC program, the proposed rule will finally force the Federal Government to take full responsibility for the care and treatment of the UAC population.”
UAC are minors, mostly older teenagers, who enter the country illegally without their parents, the press release states.
The proposed rule will not affect the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program because “there is a cooperative agreement that governs the resettlement of URM,” according to the press release. Additionally, the rule also bars existing licensees from adding to their UAC population, but would require them to conduct regular, in-person welfare checks of any UAC from their current population who are placed with sponsors in Florida.
The state agency noted that in President Biden’s first year of office, the number of UAC arriving at the southern border grew more than 440 percent from 33,000 in fiscal year 2020 to over 146,000 in the same time period in 2021.
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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Florida Department of Children and Families” by Florida Department of Children and Families.