Ten children who were separated from their families at the border under President Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy against illegal immigration are being cared for in three Maryland facilities, federal officials told Gov. Larry Hogan this week.
A spokeswoman for the state Department of Human Services said the three facilities provide foster care services and are in good standing with the state. Spokeswoman Paula Tolson declined to identify them.
Tolson said Hogan was briefed on Monday by the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which is responsible for the children. Another 52 children who arrived at the border by themselves are also being held in Maryland.
The details of the briefing provide a clearer picture of the role groups in Maryland are playing in assisting the children, who were separated from their parents and other relatives after the Justice Department began prosecuting people who cross the border illegally as criminals.
President Trump signed an order last week that he said would end the family separations. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the government to reunite all separated children with their families within 30 days.
Child welfare and legal groups have questioned whether the government will be able to put every family back together.
Tolson said the federal official “assured the governor that the federal government is working to reunify children with their families as quickly as possible, after performing the necessary vetting to ensure no child is released to traffickers posing as parents.”
Organizations that provide services to the children in Maryland indicated the numbers here could be higher. Attorney General Brian Frosh said his staff thought there could be dozens in the state.
On Wednesday, Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler asked the Trump administration to release more details about any children that are being held in Baltimore County.
“Like millions of Americans, and as a parent and grandparent, I have been appalled by the images of children being separated from parents and housed in detention camps,” Mohler said in a statement. In a letter to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II, Mohler expressed his concerns about the detainment of kids and asked for the locations of any county facilities where children are being held to be disclosed in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.
It’s possible that children have passed through Maryland in short-term shelter placements or are now living here with relatives.
The Baltimore-based Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service said it has placed 20 separated children with foster families in Maryland since May 2017 — a year before the current crackdown began. Ten of them are still in care while social workers try to find relatives with whom they can live.
The identity of the other organizations working with the children in Maryland remains unclear. Federal records show that the Board of Child Care of the United Methodist Church, which is based in Baltimore County, has received government grants to care for immigrant children who arrive in the country alone. A spokesman for the organization declined to comment.