Pence advocates return of refugee kids

 

Editor's Note: On Tuesday at 11:50 a.m., the NUVO news desk received the following news release and letter to President Barack Obama from Indiana Governor Mike Pence:

Governor Pence Calls on President Obama to Provide More Timely Information, Return Unaccompanied Children to Their Families

Says Federal Government’s Handling of Situation “Unacceptable”

Indianapolis – In a letter sent today to President Obama regarding the unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s Southern border, Governor Mike Pence calls on the federal government to quickly resolve the crisis and provide more timely information to the states. Last week, after published media reports stated that unaccompanied children have been placed with sponsors in the state of Indiana, the federal government notified the state that 245 unaccompanied children are in Indiana.

In addition, the Governor writes, “Those who have crossed our border illegally should be treated humanely and with decency and respect, but they should be returned expeditiously to their home countries to be reunited with their families rather than being dispersed around the United States in sponsored placement or long-term detention facilities.”

[The following is the text of Pence's letter.]

STATE OF INDIANA OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

State House, Second Floor

Indianapolis, Indiana 46204

July 29, 2014

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to express my profound concern about the federal government’s mishandling

of the present crisis of unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s Southern border by

the tens of thousands. The federal government has not dealt with this crisis in an

effective or transparent manner with regard to the states, and I urge you to take

immediate action to resolve this crisis and provide states with timely and necessary

information.

In Indiana last week, we learned from media reports that more than two hundred

unaccompanied children had been placed by the federal government with sponsors in our

state. Only after these media reports were published did the state receive notice from the

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that in fact 245 unaccompanied

children had been placed in Indiana during the period from January 1, 2014 through July

7, 2014. I have been informed that HHS will only provide monthly updated numbers of

unaccompanied children placed in states during the first week of each month. This is

unacceptable.

While we feel deep compassion for these children, our country must secure its borders

and provide for a legal and orderly immigration process. Those who have crossed our

border illegally should be treated humanely and with decency and respect, but they

should be returned expeditiously to their home countries to be reunited with their families

rather than being dispersed around the United States in sponsored placement or long-term

detention facilities. Failure to expedite the return of unaccompanied children thwarts the

rule of law and will only continue to send a distorted message that illegally crossing into

America is without consequence.

Indiana will be responsible for the costs of education for these unaccompanied children

and perhaps other costs related to their health and welfare, and therefore, we require

transparency and timely information about their placement in the state. For example, in

many districts across Indiana, the 2014-2015 school year starts in just a few days, and

school officials need accurate information about unaccompanied children who will

potentially be in their classrooms while placed with their sponsors.

I am also writing to formally request real-time updates of unaccompanied children placed

in Indiana, both for arrivals and departures, so that our state can react appropriately

without a lag of weeks in receiving this information. I also request information related to

the legal status of sponsors with whom children are being placed and the localities in

which they reside.

Indiana has welcomed immigrants throughout its history and will continue to open its

communities to those who legally come to America and choose to make their home in the

Hoosier state. And as you may know, I have long sought to be a constructive voice on the

issue of border security and immigration reform. During my service in Congress I

proposed sensible immigration reform measures to strengthen our borders and provide

new and improved ways for immigrants to legally come into our country. What we are

currently experiencing in Indiana and states across the nation as this crisis deepens,

however, is neither sensible nor humane. States should not be asked by the federal

government to deal with the consequences of a failed national immigration policy.

Mr. President, the federal government must move quickly to solve this crisis, and in the

meantime it must be transparent with timely information to states. I appreciate your

consideration and look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Michael R. Pence

Governor of Indiana

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