INDIANAPOLIS In a letter sent Tuesday to President Obama regarding the unaccompanied children crossing the nation’s southern border, Governor Mike Pence called on the federal government to "quickly resolve the crisis and provide more timely information to the states."
Last week, after published media reports stated that unaccompanied children have been placed with sponsors in the state of Indiana, the federal government notified the state that 245 unaccompanied children are in Indiana.
“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,” Pence wrote.
The following is Governor Pence's full letter to President Obama:
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.
Michael R. Pence
Governor of Indiana