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Herbert, GOP governors scold Obama over border crisis

Published July 22, 2014 4:31 pm

Immigration • They warn that the wave of children could hurt their states.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert joined five other Republican governors Tuesday in calling on President Barack Obama to fix serious problems with the handling of unaccompanied children trying to immigrate into the United States without papers.

"More than 57,000 children have crossed the border since October last year. Reports are that 90,000 children could make the journey by this fall," the governors wrote to Obama. "With no end in sight, we need to have a plan to deal with the crisis in a humanitarian and practical way."

Herbert joined Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the letter outlining problems they see in handling the crisis that they say could hurt their states.

They said Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told them at a recent meeting of the National Governors Association (NGA) that the federal government "is not inquiring whether these undocumented children are being placed with sponsors or relatives who are undocumented themselves."

The GOP governors said that "raises real questions as to whether these children will maintain contacts with our legal system" or instead disappear into the shadows. The governors wrote that they were told that "nearly half fail to show up for their assigned immigration proceeding," which can create problems for states.

"We are concerned that there will be significant numbers who will end up using the public schools, social services and health systems largely funded by the states. More importantly, we are concerned that the failure to return the unaccompanied children will send a message that will encourage a much larger movement towards our southern border."

Not only does it create problems for states, they said, but "We fear that this will put a significant number of children at risk of abuse and neglect on their journey to the United States."

While just the six GOP governors signed the letter, they said at recent NGA meetings "Governors on both sides of the aisle expressed concern with your administration's handling of the situation."