Advocates Respond to Gov. Deal’s Unaccompained Minor Claims In Georgia

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Advocates responded to the Governor’s claims that over a thousand unaccompanied minors have come to Georgia from Central America since January and that the Obama administration is providing no information about them.

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In his letter to President Obama, Governor Deal said that the state has no idea where the children are coming from or where they’re ending up. 

Jeffrey Tapia is the executive Director of the Latin-American Association, whose attorneys work with some of the children during the immigration court process. 

She told WABE the children are placed with either sponsors or relatives who are identified and vetted by the non-profits which assist them.

“So they know that they’re sending them into a situation that’s very stable and should not be a burden to the state or the community.”

Thursday, Deal spokesperson, Brian Robinson, told WABE that some of the children are in Dalton, Georgia and have been enrolled in the school system.

Robinson added that providing social services for the minors, like healthcare and free school meals would be costly for Georgia if the children are given refugee status.

But so far the federal government has not done that.

Immigration attorney Rocky Rawcliffe says Governor Deal’s claims that the unaccompanied minors will cost the state a lot of money are unsupported.

“They’re children coming thru social-federal programs from other states that the governor isn’t concerned about knowing that they’re here or enrolling in school.”

WABE contacted the Dalton Public Schools.

Statement from Dalton Public Schools spokesperson Pat Holloway:

“Dalton Public Schools, like a number of systems across Georgia, have enrolled about 30 unaccompanied minors from Guatemala and El Salvador during the 2013-14 school year. We are aware that a number of systems contiguous to our district are also seeing sporadic numbers of students from these areas, as are districts who have larger Hispanic or Latino populations throughout Georgia.”

Governor Nathan Deal Criticizes Obama Administration over Unaccompanied Minors Heading to Georgia

Georgia governor Nathan Deal says the White House is not providing any information about unaccompanied Central American children who are currently in the state.

In a strongly worded letter to President Obama on Thursday, Deal criticized the administration for continuing to send some children to Georgia.

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Deal writes, “Mr. President, we don’t know where these children are being sent, how long they will reside in our state or who they are even residing with while they are in our state.”

Brian Robinson says the number of unaccompanied minor coming to Georgia is over a thousand.

“We found out this week for the first time since January 1st the office of refugee resettlement has sent 1, 154   to Georgia. That’s a big, big number.”

In his letter, Deal says he’s aware of what he calls the delicate nature surrounding the underlying issue as it relates to these children.

Many have relatives in the United States and say they are fleeing gang violence and drug trafficking back home.

Elizabeth Kennedy is a Fulbright scholar who works in El Salvador.

She’s interviewed more than 5-hundred children who were caught in Mexico and sent back.

Kennedy told NPR’s Robert Siegel the children will keep trying.

She told Siegel the story of a twelve-year old boy who arrived with no shoes.

The boy, according to Kennedy had been beaten and robbed.

When asked if he would try to enter the United States, Kennedy stated the boy burst into tears.

He said he had not seen his parents in ten years, had a little sister he never met and said no one in Mexico loved him.

When the unaccompanied youth arrive in the states, the government requires the children go through immigration court.

However, Governor Deal spokesperson, Robinson claims many don’t show up and he says they will cost Georgia if they are classified as refugees.

“They will automatically be eligible for all social services benefit, they’ll be able to go to school and get free lunch, they’ll be able to enroll in Medicaid.”

Robinson did admit the White House has said the unaccompanied minors would NOT be given refugee status.

When asked if the Office of Refugee Resettlement had provided information on those children in Georgia, Robinson said no.