GOVERNORS WARY OF ADMINISTRATION EFFORTS ON UNACCOMPANIED CENTRAL AMERICAN CHILDREN CROSSING SOUTHERN BORDER
© Krantz News Service, July 16, 2014
As thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America continue to flood across the southern U.S. border, state leaders are reacting with wariness and some communities are resisting relocation efforts.
The administration has not generated much support for its plan to host thousands of these children in various locations across a number of states, not all of them along the border.
State leaders in attendance at the recent National Governors Conference were cool to a presentation by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who sought support from governors of the states that will host many of the children.
"Governors of both parties expressed concerns about the cost to states, including providing public education for the children, according to those who attended the meeting," The Associated Press reported. 1/
Even Democratic Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who had argued against hasty deportation of the children, resisted early plans to host some of the children at a former U.S. Army Reserve facility in Westminster, MD, according to published reports. 2/
Westminster is a town of less than 20,000 located midway between Baltimore and the storied town of Gettysburg, PA, site of a key battle of the Civil War in 1863. (In a brief skirmish known as Corbit's Charge, U.S. cavalry units fought Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart's cavalry in Westminster, and may have delayed his arrival in Gettysburg, depriving Confederate General Robert E. Lee of timely intelligence.) 3/
Local officials had spoken out against the administration's plan to use the U.S. Army Reserve facility, and police are now investigating as a possible hate crime the spray-painting of anti-immigrant graffiti on the facility. 4/
Under a 2008 bill signed into law by President George W. Bush, undocumented children from Central America have the right to see an advocate, have a hearing and if possible be reunited with family members before deportation. This law, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, was intended to protect children and thwart sex trafficking. 5/
Observers note that the surge of unaccompanied children from Central America is an unintended consequence of this law. 6/
Politicians across the political spectrum are calling for solutions.
"We cannot allow this crisis to continue," Arizona Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said in a statement supporting legislation to address the crisis. "This is another example of Washington's failure to secure the border and fix our broken immigration falling on the shoulders of Arizonans. We must address both the security and the humanitarian aspects of this crisis. This bill gets past the rhetoric and is about real solutions." 7/
The bill, S. 2611, is the Helping Unaccompanied Minors and Alleviating National Emergency, or HUMANE, Act. It was filed by Texas Democratic U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar and Texas Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn.
While the bill does have some bipartisan support, critics say it would lead to rapid deportation, risking some of the protections given to children under the earlier legislation. 8/
1/ See, e.g. "HHS chief seeks states' help with immigrant children," pressherald.com, July 14, 2014, retrieved July 15, 2014 http://www.pressherald.com/2014/07/14/hhs-chief-seeks-states-help-with-immigrant-children/
2/ See, e.g. "O'Malley Told Federal Officials Not to House Illegals in Westminster," www.wbal.com, July 16, 2014, retrieved July 16, 2014 http://www.wbal.com/article/108564/2/omalley-told-federal-officials-not-to-house-illegals-in-westminster; and "First on CNN: After criticizing White House over unaccompanied minors, Martin O'Malley said don't send them to Maryland site," www.cnn.com, July 16, 2014, retrieved July 16, 2014
3/ "History of Corbit's Charge," http://www.westgov.com/265/Corbits-Charge, retrieved July 16, 2016
4/"Maryland State Police investigates 'No illeagles here' graffiti as a hate crime," The Washington Post, July 15, 2014, Retrieved July 16, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/maryland-state-police-investigate-no-illeagles-here-graffiti-as-a-hate-crime/2014/07/15/ec3b5c86-0c26-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html
5/ http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c110:3:./temp/~c110hoxXHP::, retrieved July 16, 2014
6/ See, e.g. "Immigrant Surge Rooted in Law to Curb Child Trafficking," by Carl Hulse, The New York Times, July 7, 2014, retrieved July 16, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/us/immigrant-surge-rooted-in-law-to-curb-child-trafficking.html?_r=0
7/ "U.S. REP. RON BARBER COSPONSORS BILL TO PROVIDE SOLUTIONS TO BORDER CRISIS," Press Release, July 15, 2014, retrieved July 16, 2014, http://barber.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/us-rep-ron-barber-cosponsors-bill-to-provide-solutions-to-border-crisis
8/ "Texas Democrats Divided Over Border Crisis Bill," by Julian Aguilar, The Texas Tribune, July 15, 2014, retrieved July 16, 2014, http://www.texastribune.org/2014/07/15/some-border-dems-uneasy-cornyncuellar-bill/