DHS Secretary addresses overcrowding of migrant children, McCain calls for access
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - For the first time since the first group of unaccompanied migrant children were bused into the Nogales Border Patrol station, Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, publicly addressed the ongoing border issue.
"Our goal is to quickly and safely transport the unaccompanied children out of CBP custody into the hands of HHS, supplementing the process all along the way in a safe and humane manner, into ultimately a safe and secure environment that is in the best interest of the child pursuant to the requirements of the law," Secretary Johnson said during the joint press conference in Washington, D.C.
Johnson says the overcrowding can be blamed on an overall increase in illegal immigration. Last year, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol reported 24,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border. By May of this year, he says, that number has nearly doubled to 47,000. A majority of those children coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in an attempt to escape ongoing violence in their native countries.
Meantime, Arizona Senator John McCain posted on twitter, demanding border patrol allow media inside the Nogales processing center. So far, only advocate groups have been granted access. The Republican senator discussed the issue Thursday morning on the 104.1 FM Jon Justice show.
"There is only one way of knowing what the treatment is and that's for the media to allowed access," Sen. McCain said. "We need you and any media outlet that wants to be there to be there. What kind of society are we in?"
The Honduran Consulate General says the current count of children housed inside the Nogales facility has climbed to 1,140.
Thursday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne sent a letter to the DHS threatening legal action and demanding they stop what he called "transportation and abandonment" of illegal immigrants from other states to Arizona.