State governors from both parties are not clamoring to support the Obama administration’s plan to place thousands of unaccompanied illegal immigration children with friends or family members.
Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell met privately with dozens of governors Sunday at the National Governors Association summer meeting in Nashville. According to those who attended the meeting, the governors expressed particular concerns about the costs to states, including that of providing public education for the children.
“Our citizens already feel burdened by all kinds of challenges. They don’t want to see another burden come into their state,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat. “However we deal with the humanitarian aspects of this, we’ve got to do it in the most cost-effective way possible.”
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad were among the most vocal Republican critics. They seized on the administration’s plans to place the children with friends or family members without checking on their immigration status.
Under current U.S. law, immigrant children from countries that don’t border the United States and who cross into this country by themselves are turned over to HHS within 72 hours. From there, they often are reunited with parents or placed with other relatives already living in the country, while they wait for an immigration court to decide their future.
Since Oct. 1 more than 57,000 children have crossed the border alone. Most are from Honduras, El Salvador or Guatemala. More than 90,000 unaccompanied minors are expected to cross the border into the United States by September, according to Obama Administration estimates.