The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced that a joint operation with the Department of Children’s Services and the U.S. Marshals Service led to the rescue of 150 missing children from across the state. Meanwhile, the concern is growing over many migrant children entering the southern border illegally unaccompanied.

“Operation Volunteer Strong” began in the fall of 2020, and the operation’s efforts began to materialize as of January 4. During the operation, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI) analysts gathered information and possible leads on the cases, which designated law enforcement pursued during the two-week blitzes in each of Tennessee’s three major district regions, local media outlet WVLT reported.

Operation Volunteer Strong

Authorities reported that the joint operation recovered children missing during three raids across the state in January and February. The TBI said it initially launched the operation in an attempt to locate 240 missing children, implying that while the 150 children rescued demonstrates good work, much remains to be done. The TBI announced that the operation is an ongoing effort, and they will continue working to recover missing children.

“The U.S. Marshals are committed to assisting state and local agencies with locating and recovering endangered missing children to help prevent their falling victim to crimes of violence and exploitation,” said David Jolley, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Tennessee. “We will use every resource at our disposal to help find these missing children.”

The 150 children were found through interdisciplinary teamwork by various agencies working together over several months. Most of the children recovered during the operation will receive services through the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, which may include foster care placements, group homes, or other specialized care, the TBI said in a statement.

Unaccompanied illegal minor immigrants

While the children’s rescue is celebrated, the concern is growing about the thousands of immigrant minors entering illegally and unaccompanied across the southern border, thanks to President Joe Biden’s new policies of loosening border controls.

According to the letter sent Thursday, a group of House Republicans has just demanded a hearing on White House responses to unaccompanied illegal immigrant children near the U.S.–Mexico border.

The letter points to a “sharp increase in unaccompanied alien children” along the border. The lawmakers said there should be “adequate oversight” from the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees U.S. immigration enforcement. The Department of Health and Human Services determines if there is a plan to stem the tide of migrants.

These children, who enter unprotected without elders’ care, often end up being trafficked, sexually abused, and/or used to commit criminal acts.