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Biden administration allowing Afghan children who arrived in US without a parent to stay with adult they travelled with

The Biden administration is adjusting processing guidance for all Afghan children who arrived in the US without a parent, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Department has said.

The US will allow the Afghan children to stay with the adult they travelled with, the guidance issued over the weekend by the agency said.

The Health and Human Services Department issued fresh guidance over the weekend that outlined steps to avoid Afghan children being separated from adults who are their caregivers upon arrival to the US.

Ned Price, the US State Department spokesperson has said last week that “very few Afghan children are arriving in the US with adults not known to them.”

According to officials, more than 100 Afghan children have arrived in the country unaccompanied. Although the official said that the majority are reunited with the family.

Since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the withdrawal of foreign troops, thousands have fled the country to escape the Taliban rule.

In the US, if a child arrives without his/her parents, they are generally deemed “unaccompanied” and referred to the custody of the HHS Department.

Now, an HHS agency — the Office of Refugee Resettlement — is allowing those children to stay with the adults who accompanied them to the US, even if they are not parents.

Mark Greenberg, a former HHS official and senior fellow at the Migration Policy Institute told CNN that “What normally happens is when a child arrives with a non-parent relative — such as an aunt, uncle, older sibling — they’re treated like other unaccompanied children, placed in Office of the Refugee Resettlement (ORR) custody and go through the whole process of releasing them to a sponsor.”

He added: “What they’re seeking to do here is have an expedited process for release that wouldn’t require first placing a child in an ORR shelter.”

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