Rick Santorum on Missing Immigrant Children: 'We Lose People All the Time' in Government Programs

Rick Santorum said "we lose people all the time in a lot of government programs" on Sunday in response to reports about federal authorities losing track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children. During a discussion on CNN's State of the Union, Santorum defended the Department of Human and Health Services (DHHS) by saying the children were not necessarily lost simply because the government had lost track of them.

"They were placed in vetted homes," Santorum said. "The question is, they haven't had communication with these previously vetted sponsors. Does that mean that they're lost? No. That means there's a process going on right now to try and find why these sponsors haven't checked back in to give us their location."

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Central American migrants in the Migrant Viacrucis caravan have breakfast at the Juventud 2000 shelter in Tijuana, Mexico, on April 17. Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services announced it had lost track of nearly 1,500 immigrant children. Getty Images

Santorum's comments came after the Associated Press published a report last month that the DHHS told Congress it had lost track of nearly 1,500 unaccompanied immigrant children.

The former GOP senator from Pennsylvania said "one hundred percent of the sponsors" were not likely to check in on the status of the children that were placed with them, or their whereabouts. "I think the idea that they're 'lost' is hyperbole to try and create an issue where I don't really think there is one," Santorum said. "Other than the fact that the bureaucracy—surprise, surprise—doesn't work very well."

Panelist and former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle told Santorum during the panel that if he thought the loss of those children was not alarming, it was a problem.

"The government has said that they've lost track of them; that's another word for 'lost,'" Solis Doyle said.

Santorum argued Solis Doyle's point, saying, "We lose people all the time in a lot of other government programs. That doesn't mean that these kids are out there. There are logical explanations, and again, we're talking about a government system."

DHHS officials said it was not their responsibility to find the lost children who were placed with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. Officials also said the adults who were sponsoring the children could be relatives in the U.S. who have been avoiding contact with federal officials to avoid deportation proceedings, The Washington Post reported.

Rick Santorum on Missing Immigrant Children: 'We Lose People All the Time' in Government Programs | U.S.