Pressure mounts against child immigrant detention - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

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Pressure mounts against child immigrant detention

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Sen. John McCain Sen. John McCain
Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
Sen. Jeff Flake Sen. Jeff Flake
PHOENIX (CBS5/AP) -

Arizona officials are continuing to pressure federal immigration officials over the detention of hundreds of child immigrants from Central America.

U.S. Sens. John McCain, R-AZ, and Jeff Flake, R-AZ, urged President Barack Obama to send a message to the hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant minors being sent to Arizona.

In a statement Wednesday, the senators said the increasing number of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border in south Texas is causing a "serious humanitarian situation."

Below is McCain and Flake's letter to Obama.

Dear President Obama:

We write to urge you to send a clear message to those seeking to enter the U.S. illegally.

As you recently announced, the increasing numbers of unaccompanied children crossing the U.S. border in Texas is causing a humanitarian situation that demands a coordinated federal response. While a number of factors are influencing the nature of recent illegal crossings, the narrative of lax enforcement of our immigration laws is certainly a significant contributor.

In the coordinated federal response you call for, we urge you to use the resources at your disposal to make clear to those seeking illegal entry that current and recent illicit border crossers are not covered by and will not receive consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA). Similarly, it would be helpful if you could relay that any legislative remedy Congress approves dealing with those here illegally will surely include a requirement to have been in the country for an extended duration. For example, the immigration reform legislation approved by the Senate requires illegal aliens to have been present in the U.S. since December 31, 2011 as one of the eligibility requirements for applying for legalization. In addition, we urge you to convey to your foreign counterparts that they need to do whatever is necessary to dissuade their citizens from the dangerous strategy of crossing illegally.

Few in the world are listened to as closely as the President of the United States. While resisting the temptation to take further unilateral action on immigration enforcement, the present situation begs your best efforts to make clear that there are consequences for illegally entering the U.S.

Sincerely,

Jeff Flake

John McCain

On Thursday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne issued a letter he sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, demanding that they stop transporting immigrants into Arizona.

"In the past two weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has transported, and continues to transport, a significant number of illegal immigrants from other states into Arizona," said Attorney General Tom Horne. "Men, women and children left at bus terminals in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees with nothing more than instructions to report to the nearest ICE office within 15 days, posing significant health and safety risks both for the people being abandoned and the communities in which they are being stranded, is not acceptable."

Horne continued, "Not only were these inadvisable and irresponsible actions done without notifying Arizona officials, but DHS has yet to explain why it is apprehending aliens in Texas, moving them some 1200 miles and simply releasing them in our state. There does not appear to be any lawful authority for such actions, and I am demanding it immediately stops. In the meantime, my office is aggressively looking into what legal remedies are available to allow for a federal lawsuit."

Gov. Jan Brewer has also been highly critical of the policy and demanded that the government stop sending children to the state.

Brewer sent the following letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

"By now, you are well aware of the current crisis plaguing the United States Border Patrol's Rio Grande Valley Sector and flooding into Arizona and other parts of the country. Nearly two weeks ago, I wrote a letter to President Obama expressing my urgent concern that the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is transporting an unknown number of adults and family units of illegal aliens from the south Texas border and releasing them at bus stations in Tucson and Phoenix. Additionally, they are transporting, detaining, and processing unaccompanied children in Arizona and then moving them to military bases in other states. As we continue to learn more daily about this situation, it has become quite clear that the chaos occurring at the Arizona-Mexico border is more than disconcerting - it is intentional and unconscionable."

"Our country is in the midst of a crisis manufactured by President Obama and his administration's refusal to enforce our nation's immigration laws. As a result, thousands of people from Central America - including unaccompanied children - are flooding into the United States and not fleeing from, but surrendering to, United States Border Patrol officials."

"By the Obama administration's own estimation, 230,000 unaccompanied alien minors are expected to cross through the Rio Grande Sector by the end of next year. It has become clear that the administration has encouraged this massive influx and intends to continue ignoring the states' calls to end this policy. Furthermore, it is indisputably evident that our border is not secure and is hardly "more secure than ever." Consequently, if Border Patrol is overwhelmed, what consideration is being given- and what is being done- to determine if any of these illegal aliens have criminal histories or gang affiliations? For example, we know that MS-13, one of the world's most notorious international gangs, has strong ties to several of the Central American countries from which these aliens are arriving. The administration's refusal to properly verify that violent criminals are not among those entering the United States shows an alarming lack of concern for our homeland's security. As a nation, we cannot sit back and allow this policy to continue."

"The Obama administration is not forthcoming with answers. As congressional leaders, you have the ability to take action, get answers and stop the lawlessness that is unfolding. On behalf of the State of Arizona, I ask you to do so."

"Protecting our nation and its citizens is the federal government's primary and fundamental responsibility, but it cannot be done as long as we have an unsecured border and a federal executive that invites and encourages illegal activity. I urge you to use your voice, and the authority of your offices and the institutions you lead, to immediately and permanently terminate this atrocious policy and stop this massive, unfettered influx of illegal crossings into our country."

The children were transferred to Arizona after border agents in Texas became overwhelmed by a surge in unaccompanied children crossing the border.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson addressed the issue for the first during a news conference Thursday. He said more than 47,000 children have been apprehended since October and that the government is not doing anything to encourage illegal immigration.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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