The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has proposed a permanent rule that would forbid the agency from issuing or renewing licenses for facilities or organizations that house Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) unless the state of Florida enters into a cooperative agreement with federal agencies over the resettlement of UACs.
According to DCF, UACs are mostly older teenagers, who enter the country illegally without their parents. They are sometimes victimized by human smugglers and trafficking operations, sometimes with the knowledge or participation of family members who are already illegally in the U.S.
In the past several months, the federal government has been resettling UACs in Florida and elsewhere in the US.
The proposed permanent rule also forbids existing licensees from adding to their existing UAC populations and establishes requirements for welfare checks of UACs who have already been placed with sponsors in this state.
The proposed rule is the latest salvo in Gov. Ron DeSantis’ conflict with the Biden administration over current U.S. border policies.
“The Federal Government’s careless policies have led to this unsafe situation and Florida will no longer be complicit in it,” said DCF Secretary Shevaun Harris. “By ending the State’s involvement with the UAC program, the proposed rule will finally force the federal government to take full responsibility for the care and treatment of the UAC population.”
If issued, the permanent rule would not affect the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program because a cooperative agreement that governs the resettlement of URMs currently exists, Harris said.
According to the agency, DCF is the state’s lead agency that implements and maintains Florida’s refugee resettlement program. That program is carried out in coordination and consultation with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), and other federal agencies, DCF said.