"It is unacceptable that we became aware via a posting on the HHS website that 760 unaccompanied children have been released by the Office of Refugee Resettlement to sponsors in Tennessee without my administration's knowledge," Haslam wrote in his July 25 letter to the president. "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."
Haslam reminded the president, "This influx of immigrant children could have a significant impact on state and local governments." The state needs to be informed "prior to any additional unaccompanied immigrant children being released in Tennessee," the governor wrote, while seeking "immediate answers" to the following questions about the children already sent to his state:
1. What was the process for determining that these children should be released to sponsors in Tennessee?
2. How did you locate and evaluate the fitness of their sponsors?
3. What medical screenings were the children given prior to their release in Tennessee?
4. What is the official immigration status of these children and their sponsors?
5. In what localities are these children now residing?
6. What are the legal requirements concerning the provision of services for these children while they are in the state?
7. What additional information is available on these children, such as age and health status?
8. How long will these children be in Tennessee?
Haslam expressed particular concern about the impact the additional youngsters might have on local school systems and the ability of administrators to plan for them:
The start of school is approaching for many districts across the state, and the federal government's actions have caused great uncertainty around this issue.
I appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to receiving a response to these urgent questions.
The governor sent a copy of the letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell.
As of Wednesday morning, the governor had not yet received a reply, a member of his staff said.
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Photo of illegal immigrants waiting in line at a bus station: AP Images