A federal official says 122 children who entered the country illegally were sent to Iowa in the first half of the year. 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Kenneth Wolfe said the children were placed with relatives or sponsors. 

Gov. Terry Branstad has been opposed to hosting immigrant children in Iowa. Branstad spokesman Jimmy Centers said Tuesday federal officials didn't notify the state about the children until after the newspaper alerted state officials. 

On Monday, Branstad said such children should be returned home. He contends federal officials must improve border security. 

More than 57,000 youths, mostly from Central America, have crossed into the U.S. illegally since October.