119 unaccompanied children placed with sponsors in RI

More than 100 unaccompanied immigrant children have been placed individually with sponsors in Rhode Island this year, although Gov. Lincoln Chafee told NBC 10 on Friday he found out this week.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a state-by-state list showing that 119 immigrant children had been united with sponsors in the state from Jan. 1 to July 7.

Sponsors are usually parents, relatives or family friends. They must undergo a background check, but placements are not restricted by a sponsor's immigration status, according to the Office of Refugee Resettlement.

It's not clear where the children are staying and for how long.

Chafee has said he hasn't been contacted by any federal agency requesting help housing groups of unaccompanied minors and that, according to federal officials on a conference call he participated in Tuesday, the need to find large facilities for them has dissipated.

"A high number of the 50 governors were on the conference call and that's where the information was shared. In some states, sponsors are accepting these children without the knowledge of governors," Chafee said.

There had been thought that the children would be placed in institutions, but that's not the case. They are with families.

According to federal officials, the children are all vaccinated.

But when it comes to stopping the flood of illegal immigrants, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says Central Americans need to be told there's no free admission for children.

"We have to do a much better job. The crisis is at the border but the solution is in the countries of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala of telling them they don't get a free pass here," Reed said Friday during a taping of "10 News Conference."

If more children are coming, the state might not be notified again since there are no state resources involving in caring for these children.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.