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Ariz. rushes supplies to warehouse of young illegal immigrants shipped from Texas
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The immigrant children were flown from Texas, released in Arizona, and told to report to an ICE office near where they were traveling within 15 days.
Brewer sent an angry letter to President Barack Obama on Monday demanding that the program of dropping off families at bus stations in Phoenix stop immediately. She called the program dangerous and unconscionable, asked for details and demanded to know why state authorities weren’t consulted or even informed.
The governor said she hadn’t received a response to her letter by Friday.
“I have reached out to Federal Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson for answers. Meanwhile, I reiterate my call on President Obama to secure our southern border and terminate this operation immediately,” Brewer said in a statement.
Brewer’s staff spent Friday in a series of calls with officials from FEMA, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security.
The federal emergency supplies are held in Arizona warehouses, and Wilder said the state is working to send them to the holding center.
On Friday night, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that young lawyers and paralegals are being sought for the community service program AmeriCorps to provide legal assistance in immigration proceedings to children who come to the U.S. illegally. Officials say about 100 lawyers and paralegals will be enrolled as members of AmeriCorps in a new division called “justice AmeriCorps.”
Immigration officials can immediately return Mexican immigrants to the border, but they are much more hard-pressed to deal with Central American migrants who illegally cross into the U.S. In recent months, waves of migrants from nations south of Mexico have arrived in Texas.
The Homeland Security official said that legally, only their parents or guardians can take custody if the government makes the children eligible for release.
Officials in Central America and Mexico have noticed a recent increase in women and children crossing the border. Father Heyman Vazquez, the director of a migrant shelter in Huixtla in the southern Mexico state of Chiapas, said he and others advise children that it’s too dangerous. Yet, Vazquez is seeing more and more youths heading north.
“I remember a little boy of 9 years old and I asked if he was going to go meet someone and he told me ‘No, I’m just going hand myself over because I hear they help kids,” Vazquez said.
The perception that some immigrants could be getting a free pass into the U.S. could lead to more attempts to cross the border. Illegal immigration increased heavily under a “catch-and-release” strategy during the George W. Bush administration. Under that policy the government issued notices to appear in immigration court to migrants from countries other than Mexico until Bush stopped the practice.
Federal officials established a 210-mile stretch of the Texas-Mexico border as a zero-tolerance zone for illegal immigration. Instead of merely getting sent back home, migrants were arrested, prosecuted and sometimes sentenced to prison before being formally kicked out of the country. By August 2006, border agents in the Del Rio, Texas, sector said daily arrests had dropped from 500 to fewer than 100.
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