A report by a Texas think tank says federal authorities have compromised the rights and safety of some unaccompanied illegal immigrant children they have detained, according to the Associated Press. Many children appeared before immigration judges without legal representation, some were transported home in shackles or cages, and the medical needs of some were ignored, according to the Center for Public Policy Priorities in Dallas. ”There’s no consistent policy. There’s nobody who’s responsible for these kids, in looking out for their safety,” report author Amy Thompson said. ”It’s being handled in ad hoc fashion.”
The Department of Homeland Security, which oversees immigration and border enforcement, disputes the findings. ”DHS and its component agencies treat all minors, including unaccompanied alien children, with dignity, respect and special concern for their particular vulnerabilities,” spokeswoman Laura Keehner said. The report was compiled through interviews and by examining U.S. immigration agency documents and immigration policies and statistics. An estimated 43,000 unaccompanied illegal immigrant children were removed from the U.S. in 2007, according to the report. They were caught while traveling alone, or with siblings, other children or adults whom they may not know.