The great relocation
It’s no secret things are a mess at America’s southern border right now. More than 50,000 undocumented children have been caught entering the country since last October – many of whom have turned themselves in – and that number could end up pushing 100,000 in the next few months. In response, the US Department of Homeland Security has moved to place some of these children in states across the country – one of which is Nebraska. Watchdog.org’s Nebraska bureau first broke the news on July 10, reporting that about 200 of undocumented children had been placed with families and sponsors several months ago.
Even though the placements took place months ago, news of them came as a surprise to almost everyone in the state.
“Prior to our story,” said Nebraska Watchdog reporter Deena Winters, who covered the story, “there was not talk of any of the border kids being here, even though we’ve since learned they come every year, but the numbers started swelling last year.”
Even Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman had been in the dark about Homeland Security’s doings. The day after Nebraska Watchdog broke the story, he said he was furious to discover that federal officials did not give him details about the undocumented children placed in his state. He even made a point to mention it to Vice President Biden at an National Governors Association meeting in Nashville.
Everyone’s talking about it
“Once the story was out it had a major effect,” said Winters. “The state’s whole congressional delegation has weighed in on this, sending a letter to federal officials demanding more transparency and answers. The Wall Street Journal did a story the following weekend about other governors who were also mad, including ours. It has become a huge controversy in our state.”
Winters further reported that Nebraska’s congressional delegation has also introduced legislation to force the Obama administration to be more transparent about the children that have been placed in their state as part of the border crisis.
Nebraska Watchdog has continued to lead the way in subsequent coverage, with several stories exploring various angles and reactions to the news. Bureau chief Joe Jordan reported, for instance, that the Omaha police department’s largely hands-off policy dealing with undocumented citizens would be getting a second look because of concerns that current police guidelines don’t go far enough for this day and age.
Jordan also covered the backlash against Gov. Heineman, reporting on a South Omaha activist who said Gov. Heineman’s “history of anti-immigrant feelings” makes the governor the wrong go-to-guy in this fight.
It all goes to show how the border crisis has nationwide reverberations that shake even local communities. Regardless of the politics involved, everyone should be concerned.
“It’s relevant because some officials are concerned that tax dollars will be needed to support these children in one way or another,” said Winters.
She also pointed to the stress the immigration issue has put on the relationship between federal and state government.
“Many of our congressional representatives have said the fact that federal officials won’t tell us what’s going on is damaging their relationship with states.”
“The story is one of federal failures – in DC, in Central America and at the border – and a costly social welfare network wide open to waste and abuse,” said Will Swaim, Editor of Watchdog.org. “What costs are being picked up by your state and local governments?”
That sums up the mission of Nebraska Watchdog to a tee, and those are the questions all Watchdog.org bureaus are striving to answer.