Fleischmann demands answers about unaccompanied minors

Rep. Chuck Fleischmann wrote a letter to President Obama, demanding answers as to why 760 unaccompanied immigrant children were placed in Tennessee.

All the Republicans in the Tennessee House and Senate, along with U.S. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, co-signed the letter. U.S. Representatives John Duncan Jr., Marsha Blackburn, Phil Roe, Diane Black, Scott DesJarlais and Stephen Fincher added their signatures as well.

Fleischmann wrote the letter in support of Gov. Haslam's letter, which complained that the Department of Health and Human Services failed to directly tell officials in Tennessee that unaccompanied minors were released into the custody of sponsors living in the state.

"This is wrong. This is just plain and simple wrong for the administration to do this. These children are unaccompanied," Fleischmann said. "We don't know where they have been sent in Tennessee, we don't know who has them. We don't know whats been done to process them or if they've been processed."

In many cases, sponsors are the children's parents, relatives or a family friend, reports the Associated Press.

RELATED: Haslam says he was not told of unaccompanied minors

The letter demanded answers about the number, status and location of these children.

"We believe the care and processing of the unaccompanied alien children in our country is of the utmost importance and must receive your direct and immediate attention," Fleischmann wrote in the letter.

Since the start of the year through July 7, the Department of Health and Human Services released 30,000 unaccompanied immigrant children into the care of sponsors.

BACK STORY: Tennessee has 760 of the children crossing into US

Nearly 800 of that 30,000 came to Tennessee unbeknownst to state officials, a practice Gov. Haslam called "unacceptable."

"Not only was our state not informed prior to any of the children being brought here, I still have not been contacted and have no information about these individuals or their sponsors other than what was posted on the HHS website and subsequently reported by media," he wrote.

Fleischmann said he took the lead in writing the letter, and it didn't take much to convince Tennessee's Senate delegation and the entire Republican House to get on board. He said immigrants illegally crossing the border is nothing new today, it's just getting worse.

"We've got to secure our borders, plain and simple. This is proof positive that our borders are not secure, they are porous. People are pouring across by the tens of thousands," he said. "It is a crisis. It's a crisis for America and we've got deal with this."

Health and Human Services initially placed those 30,000 children in government shelters and then released them to sponsors while they go through deportation proceedings.

"Tennessee is a diverse and welcoming state, and we also understand that this is a complicated issue," Haslam wrote. "However, an influx of unaccompanied immigrant children to the state, with little information being made available to the public or state leaders, creates confusion and could be very problematic."

The Associated Press reported that Texas, New York, Florida and California received the most unaccompanied minors, accounting for 46 percent of the children placed during that period.


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