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Central American migrant children taking part in the 'Migrant Viacrucis' caravan towards the United States. Photo: Victoria Razo/AFP/Getty Images

Almost 1,500 migrant children are unaccounted for after being placed with sponsors by the Department of Health and Human Services, according to a top HHS official's testimony on Thursday the New York Times reports.

The details: Acting assistant secretary of HHS' Administration for Children and Families, Steven Wagner, told the Senate homeland security subcommittee that the department learned of 1,475 missing kids after calling to check in with their sponsors. This comes as the HHS and Department of Homeland Security are working towards an agreement on "joint procedures" for handling unaccompanied children. They're a year past the agreed upon deadline, per the NYT.

There have been problems before with migrant children being handed over to human traffickers, and that concern has been raised with this number of kids missing.

  • Per the Times, unaccompanied children who arrive at the border are either taken into custody or turn themselves over. They are then processed, turned over to the refugee office at HHS, and housed in a shelter before being given to sponsors.

Who are the sponsors: The sponsors, per the Times, are "usually parents or family members already residing in the United States," and are supposed to have gone through "a detailed background check."

  • The department is supposed to follow up with the sponsors after housing the children to make sure they are "enrolled in school and are aware of their court dates," but immigration advocates told the Times that HHS "did very little follow-up."

Go deeper

20 mins ago - Health

Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific COVID vaccine

A health worker in Palestine preparing a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech's coronavirus vaccine on Jan. 24. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech announced Tuesday that they have started clinical trials for a reformulated vaccine to protect against the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Why it matters: The rise of the Omicron variant has forced vaccine makers to reassess the effectiveness of their vaccines.

Retail stock traders power stunning comeback after deep selloff

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

Stocks staged a Patrick Mahomes-esque comeback Monday, after plunging for the first few hours of trading.

Why it matters: The remarkable recovery suggests that retail traders who upended markets over the last year — most notably during the GameStop bonanza that occurred almost exactly a year ago — continue to be powerful influence in the markets.

America can't quit polarizing politicians

Expand chart
Data: NewsWhip; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

New data finds that the nation's most polarizing politicians are often the ones that garner the most attention online.

Why it matters: Online engagement helps politicians build a bigger national profile and more fundraising power, incentivizing them be more outrageous, more polarizing and more divisive.