Twenty of America’s twenty-seven Republican governors urged the Biden administration Tuesday to get a handle on the situation at the southern border, saying the US frontier with Mexico was “neither closed or secure.”
In a letter to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, appointed by Biden to handle the crisis, the governors complained that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) went behind their backs by asking nonprofits and private organizations to put up unaccompanied children apprehended at the border.
“Allowing the federal government to place a potentially unlimited number of unaccompanied migrant children into our states’ facilities for an unspecified length of time with almost zero transparency is unacceptable and unsustainable,” the letter reads.
“We have neither the resources nor the obligation to solve the federal government’s problem and foot the bill for the consequences of this Administration’s misguided actions.”
The letter’s signatories include border state Govs. Doug Ducey of Arizona and Greg Abbott of Texas. Other prominent governors who signed on include Kristi Noem of South Dakota, Brian Kemp of Georgia and Chris Sununu of New Hampshire.
It comes as the Associated Press reported Tuesday that the administration is currently housing approximately 21,000 illegal immigrant kids in some 200 facilities across two dozen states.
Five of the shelters reportedly house more than 1,000 children, while a facility at Fort Bliss in Texas had more than 4,500 children as of Monday. The report further found that about half of all kids detained in the US are sleeping in shelters with more than 1,000 other children. More than 17,650 are in facilities with 100 or more children.
At the White House Tuesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reiterated his insistence that “the border is closed,” despite daily footage of illegal immigrants wading across the Rio Grande.
“We are expelling single adults and families under the Title 42 authority that rests with the Centers for Disease Control,” he claimed, “and we decided as an administration, in furtherance of the president’s direction to administer our immigration laws of this country in an orderly and safe and humane way, that we will not expel unaccompanied children.”
However, immigration attorneys, advocates and mental health experts tell AP that while some shelters are safe and provide adequate care, others are endangering children’s health and safety. Some caregivers are not vetted with full FBI fingerprint background checks, an oversight for which Biden criticized the Trump administration. Perhaps most shockingly, an HHS official told the wire service the agency has received reports of abuse resulting in a handful of contract staffers being dismissed from working at emergency intake sites earlier this year.
The governors blamed the White House’s “reckless federal policy reversals” — including halting construction of the border wall and rolling back asylum agreements with Central American countries — for what they called “a self-created crisis that exploits families, undermines public safety and threatens our national security.”
“While the most direct victims of the policy changes will be the children exploited and trafficked by gangs and cartels, the disastrous impact of your polices on America’s recovery will be far-reaching,” they wrote. “Federal, state, and local authorities are overwhelmed, and the situation on the ground is heartbreaking.”
With Post wires