Arkansas congressional delegates react to housing immigrants in Arkansas

Arkansas congressional delegates react to housing immigrants in Arkansas
Written by: Marine Glisovic
Published by: KATV

LITTLE ROCK (KATV) — The Department of Health and Human Services says it is working to determine if two sites in Arkansas will be used for temporarily housing unaccompanied immigrant children.

Accompanied by members of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, HHS confirms it visited “unused federal property” at the USDA Kelso Works One site and the Little Rock Air Force Base.

The USDA property was assessed to determine its suitability as a place to temporarily house immigrant children in the future and LRAFB was visited to determine if a more detailed assessment was needed.

HHS says it will keep local and congressional leaders informed during its process for assessing and selecting sites.

On Friday, Congressman Rick Crawford, who spoke out about the Kelso site on Twitter, stated, “We should all be willing to play a role in national security, but I question the wisdom of placing a population of unvetted immigrants in a tent city on a floodplain with no basic infrastructure far removed from their lawful port of entry. Not only would this displace the immigrants in question, it could create untold complications for the citizens in the region of the proposed site. At the very least, leaders from every level of government and relevant stakeholders should first be consulted for guidance and input. I don’t believe this proposal is a good one. Someone should have looked a little closer at the historical context of this site. It’s literally within sight of another internment camp dating back to 1942 involving Japanese-Americans. That proposal wasn’t a good idea either.”

Kelso is minutes away from Rohwer, Arkansas, where Japanese-Americans were held in internment camps created under the War Relocation Authority during World War II, according to Arkansas.com.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson also said he’s opposed to the federal government using Arkansas facilities as a place to keep children who are separated from family at the border.

A spokesperson for Sen. Cotton said he believes “it’s more appropriate that all persons should be kept at or near the border, not at remote locations.”

Rep. French Hill said, “These children belong with their parents at the border, not hundreds of miles away at the Little Rock Air Force Base or other locations in Arkansas.”

“I support keeping families together, but I have significant concerns with locations in Arkansas the administration is considering,” Sen. John Boozman said. “I’m working with Governor Hutchinson to get answers from the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense.”

“The ‘zero tolerance’ policy is a heartbreaking manifestation of our country’s broken immigration enforcement system,” said Rep. Steve Womack. “While it is necessary to enforce immigration laws, I do not support a policy that results in the separation of children from their parents at the border. Congress has the responsibility to develop long-term immigration legislation that encourages lawful behavior while strengthening and securing our country’s border. With thoughtful debate from both sides, I am confident Congress can fix our outdated and fractured immigration system.”

In a statement released Friday morning, the American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas condemned the potential use of LRAFB as a detainment camp.

“Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents. Families who are seeking asylum from violence and daily horror shouldn’t be shipped around the country to be detained indefinitely on an airforce base. They belong in homes and should be given the resources they need to start the healing process from the trauma of being separated..” said Rita Sklar, executive director.

“We should all be willing to play a role in national security, but I question the wisdom of placing a population of unvetted immigrants in a tent city on a floodplain with no basic infrastructure far removed from their lawful port of entry. Not only would this displace the immigrants in question, it could create untold complications for the citizens in the region of the proposed site. At the very least, leaders from every level of government and relevant stakeholders should first be consulted for guidance and input. I don’t believe this proposal is a good one. Someone should have looked a little closer at the historical context of this site. It’s literally within sight of another internment camp dating back to 1942 involving Japanese-Americans. That proposal wasn’t a good idea either.”

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