On Thursday's New Day, CNN misleadingly reported a new version of a similar story from earlier this year which suggested that the Trump administration had incompetently "lost" about 1,500 illegal immigrant children who had been in HHS custody.
But the first version of the story had already been debunked earlier this year, and, on Thursday's show, CNN reporter Tal Kopen admitted that the story was not as bad as co-hosts Alisyn Camerota and John Berman initially made it sound.
Before a commercial break at 6:44 a.m. Eastern, Camerota hyped:
For the second time in less than a year, the Trump administration admits it has lost track of now 1,500 undocumented immigrant children. Why is this happening? Who is the incompetent person here?
A few minutes later, Berman introduced the report:
For the second time this year, the Trump administration has lost track of immigrant children. This time it's 1,500 children. Officials say they were placed in the homes of sponsors, and now those sponsors cannot be reached.
Kopen explained that HHS normally releases immigrant children who enter the country unaccompanied by handing them over to guardians like family members or family friends. She then explained that, in about 1,500 recent cases, HHS had been unable to reach the guardians the children had been given to.
Without clarifying that it was during the Obama administration that there were cases of immigrant children who were inadvertently handed over to child traffickers who used them as slaves, Kopen vaguely explained that HHS had inadvertently handed unaccompanied children over to traffickers who sent them to an egg farm in Ohio, which led to the Senate pushing for HHS to conduct more background checks and make follow up contacts to verify that children were not being abused after being entrusted with sponsors. Kopen recalled:
Now, keep in mind that this doesn't necessarily mean that those children are entirely lost or missing. It means that when those calls were placed -- those voluntary followups -- they weren't actually able to connect with the family. It is absolutely possible that some of these families may not want to respond to the government when they call and may be undocumented themselves.
But these followup calls started because members of Congress have been pressing after eight children in Ohio were placed with human traffickers, they've been pressing on HHS to do these followups -- to make sure that these adults actually were suitable for these children. And it shows that 13 percent of these children, it couldn't be verified who they went to. So that shows how much unknown there is in this system.
She then quoted from a statement recently released by HHS, arguing that "[t]hese children are not lost," and that the guardians "in all cases have been vetted for criminality and ability to provide for them," and that "[t]hey simply did not respond or could not be reached when this voluntary call was made."
In January 2016, the Senate released a report finding that HHS had only followed up on about four percent of children handed over to sponsors, which led to the push for HHS to make greater efforts to check on children after they were released to their sponsors.
Notably, on last week's Velshi and Ruhle on MSNBC, co-host Stephanie Ruhle and reporter Julia Ainsley fretted over the fact that the Trump administration had started fingerprinting potential guardians before handing over children to them, which was apparently leading some potential sponsors to refuse to show up because they did not want to supply fingerprints, and leading to children being kept in HHS custody for a longer period of time.