State Government Weighs in on Immigration Crisis

LITTLE ROCK (KARK)--With thousands of immigrant children crossing the U.S. border illegally, one Arkansas senator is asking the governor how this will impact the Natural State.

Republican senator Bart Hester from Cave Springs says his concern isn't about the small number of children already here, but what happens when that numbers grows.

Terry Trevino-Richard, with the League of United Latin American Citizens said gang and drug violence dominates Honduras and El Salvador, forcing parents to make difficult decisions.

Trevino-Richard said, "To send them back, in many cases is a threat of death for them. When you know your child has no future here, that there's a greater chance they'll wind up in a gang or wind up being killed, you will send your child to a place that is safe."

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, 166 immigrant children in Arkansas stay with "sponsors". In most cases those are family members.But Senator Bart Hester says the state needs to prepare for an even larger number.

Hester said, "You have to have a game plan when the number is this small to be able to survive when the number is big."

Senator Hester says that's why he sent the governor a letter. He says the state should plan for the future and health and safety issues when the immigrant numbers reach into the thousands.

A governor spokesman says Arkansas hasn't received much information on housing immigrant children. And right now he feels Washington is taking the lead.

Matt DeCample said, "If we're not going to secure the borders we have to prepare in Arkansas for refugees continuing to come north. It's all being done from the federal end and at the end of the day it's a federal responsibility."

But senator Hester remains on edge about what's coming down the road. He said, "I think it's certainly our right to know what's going on."

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