Heineman Responds Following Nebraska ACLU Statement Over Gov.'s Letter Requesting Information on Immigrant Children


Gov. Dave Heineman is responding to criticism over what the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska says is his "blatant disregard" of understanding the plight of children who have recently made their way to the United States unaccompanied by their parents.

The ACLU released a statement Wednesday that said the names of children seeking asylum in the U.S. should never be released as it could lead to their endangerment.

The organization released the statement after Heineman, along with most of Nebraska's congressional delegation, sent a letter to federal officials requesting information about the more than 200 unaccompanied immigrant children who have been relocated to Nebraska.

Amy Miller, ACLU of Nebraska legal director, also pointed out in the statement that these children are not wards of the state and are only here pending judicial review of their cases.

"Because state law already prohibits taxpayer dollars from being used to aid the 200 children in Nebraska," the statement read, "we applaud the many faith and community groups that are upholding Nebraska’s values of compassion and generosity by extending their help to these children in their time of need. We only wish our Governor would do the same.

In response to the ACLU, Heineman said Thursday, “I can’t ensure that any illegal individual is not getting federal and state benefits if I don’t know who they are and if they are not in our system."

The governor went on to say that he wants to know who will be responsible for paying for the children's educations and expressed concern over an identified breakdown in the medical screening process for the children.

“Public health concerns have been raised about whether those coming into our country are receiving proper health screening to determine if they are carrying infectious diseases," Heineman explained. "According to a report by ABC News, the director of refugee health in the federal Health and Human Services Department has identified a breakdown of the medical screening process and there are reports of sick children. Federal public health officials are convening briefings for states on this issue."