LINCOLN, Neb. (CBSDC/AP) — Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman believes federal authorities are conducting secret operations by sending immigrant children into states without the knowledge of state officials.
Heineman told Fox News he learned from Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., that 200 unaccompanied immigrant children were placed with relatives or sponsors in the state. Heineman says no federal officials notified them that would be happening.
“We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is. Is their sponsor legal? What communities did you send them to? Why are they conducting a secret operation, essentially, transporting them all over the country … and the federal government won’t tell us what’s going on.”
Heineman and most of Nebraska’s congressional delegation sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell demanding to know more information about these immigrants.
“I hope the Congress will insert language that says governors, mayors and other local elected officials deserve to know when they’re sending these individuals to our states,” Heineman told Fox News.
The Nebraska governor says he’s concerned that this lack of transparency will continue and immigrants will be brought to more states without their knowledge.
“It’s going to happen all over America and I’m concerned. It’s 200 today, how many more tomorrow?” Heineman questioned.
“They said they believe in transparency in goverment, why won’t they be transparent on this situation?” Heineman said, referring to the Obama administration. “What are they hiding?”
Heineman stated that he believes taxpayers will be footing the bill to pay for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
“They know who they are, where they’re sending them and again, they won’t tell us whether they’re arriving by bus, by plane, by car. I have no idea and I have no idea what communities they’re going to in our state,” he told Fox News. “And then again, who’s going to foot the bill? And in all likelihood, that means legal taxpayers are going to pay for services for illegal individuals.”
The government estimates that 90,000 children, primarily from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, could make the journey alone by this fall, and that as many as 145,000 of them could arrive next year.
Last week Heineman expressed outrage that federal officials had refused to share the information.
A new bill introduced by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, would allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to turn many of the kids around quickly at the border. Under current law, the youths stay here while awaiting an eventual hearing in the backlogged immigration court system, something that can keep them in this country for years.
Of more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors who’ve arrived at the border since October, only 1,254 had been returned home as of the end of June, according to a law enforcement official who spoke anonymously to discuss confidential data.
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