Gov. Nathan Deal wrote in the letter to President Obama that he was shocked to learn from federal officials this week that the Office of Refugee Resettlement had sent 1,154 unaccompanied children to sponsors – typically a parent or other relative – in Georgia between Jan. 1 and the end of June.
“It is unconscionable that your administration failed to pick up the phone, e-mail or send a letter to my office to inform us that these children were being sent to our communities,” Deal wrote.
His administration learned that some of the young people had been sent to Georgia as part of followup from a conference call this week with Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Health and Human Services
Secretary Sylvia Burwell, the governor wrote.
More than 57,000 minors, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, have crossed into the United States since October, fueling an already intense debate over immigration in Washington and across the nation.
The governor expressed concern that his administration doesn’t know where the children are being sent, how long they will stay or who they are living with.
“Georgians are compassionate and loving people, but we are provided with little or no information about children for whom we are expected to provide an education and/or other social services during this adjudication period,” Deal wrote.
The governor wrote that he is aware of the delicate nature of the situation and the underlying issues that push the young migrants to come here, but he stressed his belief that anyone who wants to live in the U.S. must follow this country’s immigration laws, as well as the laws of the individual states where they are placed.
Obama has sought $3.7 billion appropriation for more immigration judges and detention facilities.
House Republicans and Senate Democrats advanced competing proposals this week for dealing with tens of thousands of young migrants showing up at the southern border. Each side quickly ruled the other’s approach unacceptable, leaving any solution unclear with Congress’ annual August recess looming.