New Jerseyans who think the crisis of undocumented children entering the country is a problem for southern border states should think again. Residents — typically relatives — accepted 1,504 unaccompanied minors since the beginning of this year. That gives New Jersey the seventh-largest population of undocumented children seeking asylum. Nationally, the total is 30,340.
Only Texas, New York, Florida, California, Virginia, and Maryland have accepted more children. Border states such as Arizona (186) and New Mexico (18) have taken in relatively few children, who typically are fleeing the crises in Honduras and other Central American countries.
According to the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, unaccompanied children apprehended by immigration officials are initially held in ORR shelters until a sponsor can be found. A background check is conducted on all sponsors, usually relatives, and in some cases a home study is conducted.
The child is also given vaccinations and medical screenings before being released to a sponsor’s custody. The sponsor must agree to cooperate with all immigration proceedings. Once in New Jersey, these cases are considered by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which has an office in Newark.