Tennessee immigrant children’s shelter opened under Trump
CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee (AP) – Tennessee authorized a shelter for immigrant children a year before the state’s Republican governor and U.S. senators began to express outrage over sending unaccompanied minors to Chattanooga .
Gov. Bill Lee tweeted last week that President Joe Biden’s administration must “secure the border and stop dispersing children across the country” after a local TV station aired footage of children arriving at a Chattanooga airport and boarding buses in the middle of the night. Lee noted that the state had refused an earlier administration request to house immigrant children at Tennessee National Guard facilities.
Unaccompanied children who are taken into custody by U.S. Customs and Border Protection are transferred to the federal Department of Health and Human Services, which houses them until they are placed with sponsors, usually a parent. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a press conference last week that the children seen in Chattanooga were “just about to unite with parents and sponsors.”
Many children are temporarily housed in residential shelters such as the one in Chattanooga run by the Baptiste Group, which was licensed by the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services and began operating last year under the administration of the then President Donald Trump. The license application states that it will provide “accommodation and other services to unaccompanied minors within the Office for the Resettlement of Detained Refugees”.
During an inspection by the department in February, nine children were accommodated in the establishment. The inspector wrote that the shelter was “neat, clean and in good repair”. Children interviewed said they âfeel safe and well taken care ofâ.
Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus, who heads the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, said it was in the best interests of children to move them from crowded detention centers along the border. While the process seems secret, she said, “sharing information about them only puts them at risk of harassment and violates their right to privacy.”
In response to concerns that the state does not have sufficient information about immigrant children crossing Tennessee, Republican U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty, along with U.S. Republican Representative Chuck Fleischmann, on Thursday introduced legislation that âWill force the administration to submit. to Congress and governors a monthly, state-specific report on the resettlement, transport or relocation of illegal aliens, âaccording to a press release.
The Associated Press