Gov. Heineman, ALCU exchange barbs on immigration

Gov. Heineman, ALCU exchange barbs on immigration

By Marjorie Sturgeon. CREATED Jul 17, 2014

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) - Gov. Dave Heineman fired back at critics over his comments from the immigration crisis.

The ALCU criticized Heineman for wanting to know the names and sponsors of 200 illegal immigrant children sent to Nebraska.

The organization says the governor is disregarding the law and the experiences of the kids.

Heineman says he will not be intimidated and will fight to find who and where the children are.

Read both statements below.

Gov. Dave Heineman:

“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.’”

ACLU of Nebraska Legal Director Amy Miller

"Governor Heineman’s recent letter to federal officials about tracking children who are fleeing violence and abuse in their home countries shows both a lack of understanding about how the law governing the treatment of these children must be applied, as well as a blatant disregard of what these children have gone through.

We are talking about children, often under the age of thirteen, who are properly being located with adult family members or sponsors who will care for them. 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.

The names of children who are seeking asylum should never be released because it could endanger them in the US – or in the very likely event that they are eventually deported back to the country where they fear persecution.

The reality is that these children have all been apprehended by Border Patrol and issued a Notice to Appear before an immigration judge. They are not wards of the state – these children have been placed in the custody of family members or sponsors, pending review of their cases. None are granted any sort of permit to stay at this time.

These children must be afforded due process – a chance to have the merits of their case considered and avoid deportation to places where they are not safe. They must be advised by attorneys capable of guiding them through our complex immigration system, and they must, above all, be treated like children who have particular physical and emotional needs.

Because state law already prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to aid the 200 children in Nebraska, we applaud the many faith and community groups that are upholding Nebraska’s values of compassion and generosity by extending their help to these children in their time of need. We only wish our Governor would do the same."

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Marjorie Sturgeon

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