ASPEN, Colorado–At a closed-door meeting with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was blunt.
“Look, you’ve got these undocumented children,” she recalled telling Johnson, “You haven’t told any of the governors anything. We don’t know if we’re getting them. We don’t know where they’re going. And then you’re telling us it’s not costing us anything.”
At a Republican Governors Association meeting here last week, several governors complained about the Obama administration keeping them in the dark about the tens of thousands of illegal alien children streaming across the southern U.S. border. Thousands of children apprehended by officials are being sent around the country, oftentimes without a heads up to state officials, governors said.
According to Haley, in the meeting between Johnson and the governors, Johnson told her, “Well, it’s not costing you anything.”
“But you want me to educate them, right? And you want me to pay their health care? It does cost us something,” she replied.
“You’re seeing buses and you’re seeing shelters, but you don’t know what it means in your state, because the feds have not given that to the governors,” Haley later said at an Aspen Institute presentation during the RGA conference.
Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin is facing similar issues and told Breitbart News at the Aspen Institute event, “We have around 212 children who have been let into Oklahoma with sponsor families. I asked for information on that. They told us we could not have information as to where they are–who they are–who they’re with,” she said. “And when I asked if they were released to people who were here legally or illegally in the United States, [they said] they don’t check the status of those people.”
Similarly, Haley said, “And because they won’t do the one basic thing of securing our border, we are now taking on additional children, and it’s just wrong. And when we ask who these children are, or where they are, Sec. Johnson says, ‘We can’t tell you because of privacy issues.'”
RGA Chairman Chris Christie recalled his discussion with then Secretary of Health and Human Services at the last National Governors Association meeting.
“She started to describe how they were dealing with [young illegal immigrants] in a humanitarian way, and she said, ‘These children have 90% to 95% chance of having a contact in the U.S. that is willing to take them,’ and she said their main job of the guardian is to protect the safety and welfare of the child and to ensure their appearance at their immigration hearing,” Christie told the Aspen Institute audience.
“So I then asked, ‘So you’re asking the guardian whether they’re documented, correct?’ And she said, ‘No.’ So I said, ‘Let me understand, one of the two main jobs of this guardian is to make sure that this child goes to the immigration hearing, yet you’re giving them, potentially, and almost probably, to people who are not documented. So, the undocumented people who haven’t gone through the immigration system are the ones who are going to go to the immigration office and take these children to the immigration office?'”
According to Haley, young illegal aliens usually have a phone number in a pocket or information stitched in the back of their pants.
“And they’re putting them with some sort of family member or friend. But this undocumented child is going with this undocumented person in my state that you tell me that you can’t find. This is a problem,” she said, noting, “We do care about these children. We do want them to be safe. But we also have our own children to take care of. We’ve got our foster children in every one of our states and we are trying to balance our budget.”
Fallin pointed out, “We also asked what happens when a child or adolescent turns 18, are they released out to Oklahoma? And they said, ‘Yes, they would be released’ out to our state. And we asked about those who have already been placed with a sponsor or a family member in Oklahoma and what the cost would be to our state, and certainly there would be an education cost to our public school systems.”
“And of course if the family doesn’t have some kind of health care, they would have access to free health care if they showed up at our emergency room facilities in our state which would be another cost,” she said.
Other governors from around the country have spoken up about the immigration crisis on the border, and many remain resistant to the administration’s delivery of immigrants into their states. Mississippi Republican Gov. Phil Bryant blamed the mass number of children crossing the border on the “administration’s lax immigration policies,” The Washington Post first reported.
Additionally, while some Democratic governors like California’s Jerry Brown are welcoming the illegal immigrants into his state, others in Obama’s party are either saying they have not received any orders to house immigrant children, or their states are too small to handle a large number of immigrants.