Unaccompanied immigrant minors’ locations in the US being kept secret
Updated: Saturday, August 30 2014, 05:02 PM EDT
The government has abruptly shut down operations at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and two other military bases that sheltered more than 7,700 minors the government refers to as "unaccompanied alien children."
Thousands have been transferred to 150 shelters around the country, mostly group homes run by nonprofits. But try to find out exactly where and the government won't answer. This includes requests from the public, reporters and even members of Congress.
Dan Stein heads up the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which opposes illegal immigration.
“It's outrageous. Now this administration is telling the American people, and congress, we're not even entitled to know where these people are, where they're being held, what communities are going to be impacted,” said Stein.
We compiled a list of more than a hundred shelters around the US said to be housing the children, places like:
Boys Town, Cutler Bay, Florida
Brazoria County Youth Home, Freeport, Texas
Ridge View Youth Center, Watkins, Colorado
That doesn't count 37,000 plus minors already released to family members or sponsors. The most-impacted states are: Texas with more than 5,000.
New York, California and Florida about 4,000 a piece, and more than 2,800 each in Maryland and Virginia.
Critics say the government is improperly keeping details secret to avoid negative publicity and protests.
Nonprofit BCFS cited "negative backlash" as the reason it walked away from a reported plan to convert this Texas hotel into housing with $50 million tax dollars. Senator Charles Grassley questioned the cost, which he said worked out to $166-thousand dollars a year per child.
Nobody from the Department of Health and Human Services would answer our questions. Its website states, "We cannot release information about individual children that could compromise the child's location or identity."
Stein agrees personal information should be protected, but not locations of groups.
“Clearly a member of congress can't do his or her job in representing constituents unless that person knows where people are being taken where they're gonna be held and where they're gonna be released,”
Wherever the children end up in the US, they're entitled to community health and social services, as well as public education at local schools already struggling with stretched budgets.