ATLANTA - On Thursday, Gov. Nathan Deal wrote a letter to President Obama, concerned about the surge of immigrant children sent to the State of Georgia in the last six months.
“I’m sure it will also shock the local communities around the state where these individuals currently reside. It is unconscionable that your administration failed to pick up the phone, email, or send a letter to my office to inform us that these children were being sent to our communities,” Deal wrote in the letter.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services released 1,154 unaccompanied children to sponsors in the State of Georgia since January, according to Deal’s letter.
“We don’t know where they are. We don’t know if they are enrolled in Medicaid. We don’t know what their federal status is. We don’t know who they are staying with,” said Brian Robinson, a spokesperson for Deal.
“They are not coming with a bag of money attached from the federal government,” said Robinson. “They are putting them on our doorstop, metaphorically and then walking away.”
“I don’t want others to think that is how Georgians react to a humanitarian crisis,” said Rebeca Salmon, who fights in court for these children.
“Those are federal dollars that are going to cover schooling and social services. Immigrants are specifically prohibited from getting public assistance, except on an emergency basis,” Salmon said.
Sixteen-year-old Diarin Morales just arrived in Norcross from Guatemala this summer. He spent 25 days walking across the border before being caught by U.S. Immigration officials and sent to live with his aunt in Norcross.
He says he wanted to leave the violence, the gangs, and live out the American dream.
“Yes, I ask the governor to help us because we are coming from Guatemala, because we are afraid of the gangs and violence,” said Morales.
“We’d prefer if we didn’t get a large number sent here without a plan on how to deal with them,” said Robinson.