The Obama administration has responded to a request from Tennessee’s Republican congressmen for more information on immigrant children in the state by providing a list indicating counties where 909 such children have been placed within the state, reports Michael Collins.
In July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published data showing that 760 of immigrant children had been placed with sponsors in the Volunteer State while they await immigration proceedings. That prompted a letter from Gov. Bill Haslam to the president – a spokesman says he still hasn’t received a response – as the letter from Tennessee’s two Republican U.S. senators and seven U.S. representatives.
More recent data released by the department’s Office of Refugee Resettlement put the number at 909 and provided a better picture of where they have settled.
The largest concentration ended up in Davidson County, where 255 of the children have been placed. Shelby County has received 190, Hamilton County 109, Sevier County 88 and Knox County 67. Minors have been placed in other Tennessee counties as well, but the federal data doesn’t provide a breakdown for counties that have received fewer than 50.
While the children’s arrival in Tennessee angered the state’s political leaders, who complained of the impact on state and local resources, most are fleeing their homelands to escape danger or economic conditions that made life unbearable, said Johnson, program director of the Catholic Charities’ Office of Immigrant Services.
In many cases, she said, the children came to be reunited with a parent or parents who had arrived earlier in search of a better life.
“There is a crisis in Central America, with violence and drugs and things that children shouldn’t have to live through,” said Jennifer Cornwell, executive director of Bridge Refugee Services, a nonprofit agency in Knoxville that provides protection and assistance to refugees.
…. U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah, who organized the letter, called the administration’s response “woefully insufficient” and said he would continue to demand answers.
“We have laws on the books to deal with immigration, and these laws have been ignored,” Fleischmann said.