Having failed to get a response to a series of questions he posed recently to the nation's Secretary of Homeland Security, Senator David Vitter says he has had to "dig around" to find out how Louisiana is being impacted by the surge of children from Central America crossing the U.S. border.
"I've had to dig around wherever I can, credible sources and find out key information myself," Vitter said on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Vitter says he contacted immigration officials and representatives of the U.S. military and learned that there are 1,259 new cases of unaccompanied alien children living in Louisiana.
"These are unaccompanied children coming into the country illegally and then being brought into Louisiana, in most cases turned over to the custody of a family member or a sponsor and many of these family members are themselves illegal."
"We're not Arizona or New Mexico, we're not one of the states most affected and yet, even Louisiana has a significant impact. Very, very troubling numbers," the Senator said.
Vitter says he has learned that three military bases in Louisiana have been contacted by federal officials about the possibility of opening shelters and offering "mass housing." At least two of them, the Fort Polk army base and the Barksdale air base have said that would not be possible. The U.S. Naval Air Station at Belle Chasse also was approached along with the Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport. The coliseum also rejected the possibility of sheltering immigrants.
Vitter is still awaiting an official response to his questions to the Homeland Security Secretary about how many unaccompanied alien children might end up in Louisiana and where they might be housed.
"I haven't gotten any response. That's very disappointing. I'm asking publicly again for a detailed response to those legitimate, straightforward questions."