Governor Pence Calls on President to Return Unaccompanied Kids to their Families

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WOWO): Governor Mike Pence has sent a letter to President Barack Obama, expressing his concern about the federal government’s handling with the current surge in unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s Southern border.


In the letter, sent Tuesday, Governor Pence calls on the federal government to quickly resolve the crisis and issue more information about the situation. Last week, data published by the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families showed that 245 unaccompanied children are in Indiana.


The children are placed in government shelters and then released to sponsors while they go through deportation proceedings.

 

In addition, the Governor writes, “Those who have crossed our border illegally should be treated humanely and with decency and respect, but they should be returned expeditiously to their home countries to be reunited with their families rather than being dispersed around the United States in sponsored placement or long-term detention facilities.”


The letter in full can be found below:


Dear President Obama,


I am writing to express my profound concern about the federal government’s mishandling 

of the present crisis of unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s Southern border by 

the tens of thousands. The federal government has not dealt with this crisis in an 

effective or transparent manner with regard to the states, and I urge you to take 

immediate action to resolve this crisis and provide states with timely and necessary 

information.


In Indiana last week, we learned from media reports that more than two hundred 

unaccompanied children had been placed by the federal government with sponsors in our 

state. Only after these media reports were published did the state receive notice from the 

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that in fact 245 unaccompanied 

children had been placed in Indiana during the period from January 1, 2014 through July 

7, 2014. I have been informed that HHS will only provide monthly updated numbers of 

unaccompanied children placed in states during the first week of each month. This is 

unacceptable. 


While we feel deep compassion for these children, our country must secure its borders 

and provide for a legal and orderly immigration process. Those who have crossed our 

border illegally should be treated humanely and with decency and respect, but they 

should be returned expeditiously to their home countries to be reunited with their families 

rather than being dispersed around the United States in sponsored placement or long-term 

detention facilities. Failure to expedite the return of unaccompanied children thwarts the 

rule of law and will only continue to send a distorted message that illegally crossing into 

America is without consequence.


Indiana will be responsible for the costs of education for these unaccompanied children 

and perhaps other costs related to their health and welfare, and therefore, we require 

transparency and timely information about their placement in the state. For example, in 

many districts across Indiana, the 2014-2015 school year starts in just a few days, and 

school officials need accurate information about unaccompanied children who will 

potentially be in their classrooms while placed with their sponsors. 


I am also writing to formally request real-time updates of unaccompanied children placed 

in Indiana, both for arrivals and departures, so that our state can react appropriately 

without a lag of weeks in receiving this information. I also request information related to 

the legal status of sponsors with whom children are being placed and the localities in 

which they reside.


Indiana has welcomed immigrants throughout its history and will continue to open its 

communities to those who legally come to America and choose to make their home in the 

Hoosier state. And as you may know, I have long sought to be a constructive voice on the 

issue of border security and immigration reform. During my service in Congress I 

proposed sensible immigration reform measures to strengthen our borders and provide 

new and improved ways for immigrants to legally come into our country. What we are 

currently experiencing in Indiana and states across the nation as this crisis deepens, 

however, is neither sensible nor humane. States should not be asked by the federal 

government to deal with the consequences of a failed national immigration policy.

Mr. President, the federal government must move quickly to solve this crisis, and in the 

meantime it must be transparent with timely information to states. I appreciate your 

consideration and look forward to your response.


Sincerely,

Michael R. Pence

Governor of Indiana