The Nebraska ACLU chapter is criticizing Gov. Dave Heineman, claiming he has no need to know information on the illegal immigrant children now in Nebraska.
ACLU spokesman Tyler Richard says the governor should never have written the federal government, demanding information on the 200 children being housed in the state.
“Our concern is that this letter from Gov. Heineman shows both a lack of understanding about how the law governing treatment of these children must be applied as well as we feel a blatant disregard of what these children have gone through,” Nebraska ACLU spokesman Tyler Richard tells Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN.
Gov. Heineman has sent a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell signed by Sen. Mike Johanns, Sen. Deb Fischer, Congressman Lee Terry, and Congressman Adrian Smith asking for the names of the children in Nebraska and their sponsors as well as the legal status of the sponsors. The letter states Nebraska wants to protect the health and safety of its communities as well as spare Nebraska taxpayers from any financial burden in caring for the children.
The Obama Administration has signaled that it plans to deport most of the minors who have entered the country illegally, unaccompanied by adults. President Barack Obama is expected to ask for an emergency appropriations to speed up the legal process for the estimated 52,000 children. Most seem to have come into the country from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
Richard says there is no need for the governor to have information on the children.
“Tracking young children who are fleeing violence is not only unnecessary it also raises serious privacy concerns by inviting the state to begin tracking the whereabouts of people in our state,” according to Richard. “The names of the children who are seeking asylum should never be released, because it could endanger them in the United States or in the very likely event that they will be eventually deported back to their home country where they could face persecution.”
Gov. Heineman issued a written statement in response to the ACLU’s criticism:
“I will not be intimidated by the liberal, left leaning ACLU. Calling me racist is offensive and I’m not going to comment further on it.
“I will continue to fight for Nebraskans and the State of Nebraska and our right to know the names of the unaccompanied illegal children who are being sent to Nebraska and the names of their sponsors.
“I can’t ensure that any illegal individual is not getting federal and state benefits if I don’t know who they are and if they are not in our system. I want to know who is going to pay for the education of these unaccompanied alien children that are being sent to Nebraska.
“Public health concerns have been raised about whether those coming into our country are receiving proper health screening to determine if they are carrying infectious diseases. According to a report by ABC News, the director of refugee health in the federal Health and Human Services Department has identified a breakdown of the medical screening process and there are reports of sick children. Federal public health officials are convening briefings for states on this issue.
“Even President Obama is stating, ‘Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they’ll get sent back.’”