BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Gov. Bobby Jindal blasted the Obama administration Thursday for providing few details to Louisiana officials about the more than 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been released to sponsors in the state.
The Republican governor, a likely 2016 presidential candidate, sent a letter to the president saying placement of the children in Louisiana could have “potential negative ramifications.” He blamed President Barack Obama for creating a climate that encouraged larger numbers of people to try to enter the United States illegally.
“This crisis is a predictable one. It is happening because your administration has failed to secure our borders and enforce immigration laws, making our country a magnet for these migrants,” Jindal, the son of Indianimmigrants who came to the country legally, wrote in the letter, which was provided to The Associated Press.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has posted data on its website showing that sponsors in Louisiana received 1,071 of the more than 30,000 unaccompanied children who crossed the U.S. border from Jan. 1 to July 7.
Jindal called the use of a website to convey that information “irresponsible.” He said Louisiana has received “three times the historical annual average placements” in the first six months of this year.
“The state has received no guidance or resources to ensure the education and health care for these children,” the governor wrote. “As you know, the state is responsible for child safety and welfare, yet no information has been provided on the vetting process of potential sponsors.”
Jindal is one of several governors to object to the placements. He raised concerns about where the children will be housed if an evacuation is needed in advance of a hurricane, he questioned what medical screenings the children received and he asked how many more Louisiana may receive.
He asked how sponsors’ identities were checked, whether any of the immigrant children were placed with Louisiana foster parents, in which parishes the children are living and the timeline for determining the status of the children.
“Answers to these questions are important to preserve the safety of our citizens and the welfare of these children and protect the public treasury in the immediate future,” he said.
Border Patrol agents have apprehended more than 57,000 immigrant children crossing the border alone since October, most of them from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Violence in those countries has been blamed for the increased numbers.
Children are released to sponsors — relatives, family friends or others — while going through deportation proceedings. Federal officials say they make sure the children are vaccinated and don’t have contagious diseases before placing them with a sponsor.
Congress has been unable to agree on a plan for dealing with the immigration crisis.