Neugebauer Letter Contradicts His Statement on Housing Immigrant Detainees in Littlefield
As the conversation surrounding the use of the detention facility in Littlefield for immigration detention purposes was heating up, Congressman Randy Neugebauer issued a press release on his website, www.randy.house.gov stating that it had never been his goal to house illegal immigrants there.
But that statement clearly contradicts the position he took on the matter in 2013.
The online statement posted on July 10, 2014 reads in part:
“It is not now and has never been my goal to house illegal immigrants in Littlefield, Texas or anywhere else in the United States.”
But his position now does not square up with a letter Neugebauer wrote in 2013 supporting the city of Littlefield’s efforts to secure a contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.
The topic of whether Neugebauer supported the effort or not, came up when Littlefield City Manager Mike Arismendez referenced the letter during a townhall meeting held on Tuesday July 15th in Littlefield.
El Editor obtained the letter from the city of Littlefield through an open records request and it shows that in May of 2013, Neugebauer was definitely supportive of the idea of housing detainees in Littlefield.
The letter is addressed to the Honorable John Morton, Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and dated May 23, 2013. It says in part, “I am writing you today to encourage the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to support the proposal to utilize the Littlefield Detention Center for detention of illegal immigrants”. He ends the letter by saying: “I hope you will give the Littlefield application a full and fair examination as you consider locations to house detainees”.
El Editor sent an email to Congressman Neugebauer’s office requesting comment and Neugebauer’s Communications Director, Adam Rice, responded with the following statement attributed to the Congressman:
“Over a year ago I sent a letter to ICE regarding the Littlefield facility. Since then, this problem has escalated into a real crisis and the situation on the ground has changed entirely. This year, the number of illegal minors entering the United States is expected to at least triple”. The statement goes on to blame the Obama administration for the problem, which has become a standard Republican talking point. “The Obama administration has increasingly shown that they cannot be relied on to secure the border or enforce our existing laws. Last week, after visiting the detention center at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland, I stated that my position regarding these illegal minors is that they should not be housed in Littlefield, Texas or anywhere else in the United States. They should be returned to their home countries.”
Although the Congressman is correct that the problem has escalated since he wrote the letter in 2013, his statement does not fully explain why he issued a statement saying that “it had never been my goal to house illegal immigrants in Littlefield, Texas” when it clearly had been.
At least it was in May of 2013.
Additionally, Neugebauer leaves out a pertinent detail when it comes to returning the minors to their home countries. The fact that many of those underage minors are unaccompanied by an adult guardian or parent, requires that they be treated differently than other immigrants caught entering the country illegally.
Known as the “Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008”. it places the responsibility for minors on the Department of Health and Human Services. The 2008 Congress, of which Neugebauer was a member, directed that “unaccompanied alien minors” must be placed “in the least restrictive settings that is in the best interest of the child”.
The US Senate passed the law in 2007 and President George W. Bush signed it in 2008.
Here are the HHS responsibilities according to a Health and Human Services fact sheet:
“By law, HHS must provide for the custody and care of unaccompanied alien children. An
unaccompanied alien child is a child who has no lawful immigration status in the United States; has not attained 18 years of age; and, with respect to whom, there is no parent or legal guardian in the United States, or no parent or legal guardian in the United States available to provide care and physical custody.”
Given that the law does not allow for immediate deportation of children coming from countries other than Mexico and Canada, deporting the minors who have come from countries other than Mexico without due process, would seem to be in violation of the 2008 law.