"Within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for apprehending, detaining, and deporting individuals who are not authorized to remain in the United States. Children who enter ICE custody require different treatment than adult detainees. ICE must ensure that they are not detained with unrelated adults and that they receive specified treatment and provisions while in custody. Unaccompanied alien children-individuals determined to be less than 18 years of age who are unlawfully in the United States without a parent or other legal guardian-must be transferred to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Refugee Resettlement's (ORR) custody within 72 hours of determining such children are unaccompanied, to await deportation or transfer to a legal guardian in the United States. 1 To separate unaccompanied children from adult's in ICE custody, ICE attempts to establish the date of birth for any apprehended person not readily identifiable as an adult or child. In those instances, ICE relies on various forms of information for age determination purposes, including interview statements and documentation such as birth certificates. When ICE officials have difficulty determining whether an individual is a child or an adult, they may also obtain a professional medical opinion based on dental or skeletal radiographs, commonly referred to as x-rays, to help make an age determination. ICE's use of radiographs, however, has been criticized as unreliable by some in the medical and advocacy communities."
Department of Homeland Security, Office of Inspector General, Report No. OIG-10-122
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