"The number of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) arriving in the United States has reached alarming numbers that has strain the system put in place over the past decade to handle such cases. UAC are defined in statute as children who lack lawful immigration status in the United States, who are under the age of 18, and who are without a parent or legal guardian in the United States or no parent or legal guardian in the United States is available to provide care and physical custody. Two statutes and a legal settlement most directly affect U.S. policy for the treatment and administrative processing of UAC: the Flores Settlement Agreement of 1997; the Homeland Security Act of 2002; and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. Several agencies in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) share responsibilities for the processing, treatment, and placement of UAC. DHS Customs and Border Protection apprehends and detains UAC arrested at the border while Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) handles the transfer and repatriation responsibilities. ICE also apprehends UAC in the interior of the country and is responsible for representing the government in removal proceedings. HHS is responsible for coordinating and implementing the care and placement of UAC in appropriate custody."
CRS Report for Congress, R43599
Federation of American Scientists: http://fas.org/