“Unaccompanied minors” a colloquialism for the term “Unaccompanied Alien Children” (UAC) defined in U.S. law as children under the age of 18 who arrive at a U.S. port of entry or who enter the United States without inspection. Policies developed to ensure the safety of this vulnerable population were enacted in 2008 under Chapter 8 of the United States Code at Section 1232. Under the regulations and subsequent legal rulings, these children were to be placed into the care of Health and Human Services – not ICE pending safe repatriation or placement in a qualified facility.
Since March, under the shroud of policies implemented as health directives to combat COVID-19, protection typically afforded these young migrants has been abandoned. ICE is detaining these unaccompanied minors in hotels while trying to summarily remove them from the United States. Lawyers for child advocacy groups are seeking legal intervention to end the practice.