Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) pressed the Obama administration Monday to give him the names of nearly 200 children in his state who had been apprehended entering the country illegally.
"We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is, is their sponsor legal, what communities did you send them to," Heineman said. "Why are they conducting a secret operation essentially — transporting them all over the country, and now we learn to Nebraska, and the federal government won't tell us what is going on."
"I'm concerned, it is 200 today, how many is it tomorrow?" Heineman asked.
Federal law requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to house children from noncontiguous countries until they can be released to a guardian in the United States to await deportation proceedings.
The policy has become controversial because there is no guarantee the children will show up for deportation proceedings once they are released into the United States.
The HHS told The Wall Street Journal it is required to keep the children's personal information confidential.
"They said they believe in transparency in government," Heineman said. "Why won't they be transparent on this situation? What are they hiding?"
The governor said the only way the children will eventually be returned to their county is if the government keeps track of them.
"Hey, I want to help the president here," he said. "He said he wants to return them expeditiously. The only way you are going to be able to do that is you got to be able to keep track of them. We need to know who they are."
The governor said he would work with his delegation and hopes an amendment will be inserted into the $3.7 billion in supplemental funding that President Obama requested to deal with the recent surge.
"I hope the Congress will insert language that says governors, mayors, other local officials deserve to know when they are sending these individuals to our states," he said.