Two hundred illegal immigrant children have been quietly moved to Nebraska, Gov. Dave Heineman said Friday.Heineman said he does not know the children's names, but he is pressing for information from the federal departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.
The children are some of the 55,000 who have reportedly come from Honduras and Guatemala since October to take advantage of an opening in U.S. immigration laws.
Heineman said the children are here illegally and it is vital that state law enforcement knows their names so they can be sent back when the time comes.
“Our own government is doing this and not telling state and local officials what’s going on,” he said in a live interview with KFAB radio in Omaha. “Governors and mayors need to know.”
Federal law allows children who cross alone from countries other than Mexico and Canada to have their cases heard in immigration courts.
Many of the children have arrived with only a document or two. They sometimes arrive with their mothers and they turn themselves in to immigration authorities when they cross the border.
"Federal law requires that HHS feed, shelter, and provide medical care for unaccompanied children until it is able to place them in safe settings with family members or sponsors, while they await immigration proceedings," HHS spokesman Kenneth J. Wolfe told the Bulletin Monday.
"These family members and sponsors live in many states, including Nebraska," Wolfe said.
"HHS has strong policies in place to ensure the privacy and safety of unaccompanied children by maintaining the confidentiality of their personal information," Wolfe said. "These policies are based on a number of congressional directives to protect this vulnerable population, including a 2005 House Committee Report urging HHS 'to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of all information gathered in the course of the care, custody and placement of unaccompanied alien children.'"
Honduras has degenerated into lawlessness since 2010 and now has had the world's highest murder rate, according to a report in USA Today.
Children are reportedly arriving in the U.S. through a sophisticated transportation system across Central America and Mexico that charges families around $5,000 per child to bring them to the U.S.
For a thorough USA Today report, see http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/10/child-immigrants-story/12426659/\
Wolfe said HHS "is engaging with state officials to address concerns they may have about the care or impact of unaccompanied children in their states, while making sure the children are treated humanely and consistent with the law."
This report was published Sunday and updated on Monday, when the HHS responded to our query. - Editor