Confronting the Immigration - Siouxland News - KMEG 14 and FOX 44

Confronting the Immigration

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - The government has abruptly shut down operations at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and two other military bases that sheltered more than 7,700 minors the government refers to as "unaccompanied alien children."

Thousands have been transferred to 150 shelters around the country, mostly group homes run by nonprofits. But try to find out exactly where, and the government won't answer. Not the public or reporters, not even members of Congress.

This is a serious local community impact. Dan Stein heads up the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes illegal immigration.

"Now this administration is telling the American people, and congress, we're not even entitled to know where these people are, where they're being held, what communities are going to be impacted," said  FAIR President Dan Stein.

We compiled a list of more than a hundred shelters around the US said to be housing the children.

That doesn't count 37 thousand plus minors already released to family members or sponsors. The most impacted states are: Texas with more than 5,000, New York, California and Florida about 4,000 apiece, and more than 28 hundred each in Maryland and Virginia.

Texas: 5280

New York: 4244

California: 3909

Florida: 3809

Maryland: 2804

Virginia: 2856

Critics say the government is improperly keeping details secret to avoid negative publicity and protests.

Nonprofit BCFS cited "negative backlash" as the reason it walked away from a reported plan to convert this Texas hotel into housing with $50 million tax dollars. Senator Charles Grassley questioned the cost, which he said worked out to $166 thousand dollars a year per child.

Nobody from the Department of Health and Human Services would answer our questions. Its website says quote- "We cannot release information about individual children that could compromise the child's location or identity."

At a demonstration in Washington this week supporters of undocumented immigrants weighed in.

"If communities feel that they want to know where kids are being held and what's going on I think that they do have a right to know," said Casa De Maryland's Sheena Wadnhawan. "That said, there have been safety concerns about these children in certain communities that have displayed a lot of racism"

"There is a difference when you're dealing with adults versus minors and there are other added protections that should be taken into account," said undocumented immigrant supporter Susana Sandoval.

Stein agrees personal information should be protected, but not locations of groups. "Clearly a member of congress can't do his or her job in representing constituents unless that person knows where people are being taken where they're gonna be held and where they're gonna be released."

Wherever the children end up in the US, they're entitled to community health and social services, as well as public education at local schools already struggling with stretched budgets.
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