LITTLE ROCK (KFSM) – Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe is expected to respond to Sen. Bart Hester’s, R-Cave Springs, letter concerning what contact the state has had with the federal government on immigrants who recently entered the country, and Arkansas, illegally, officials say.
Hester sent a letter to Beebe on Friday (Aug. 1) asking a number of questions on the topic of immigrants being placed in Arkansas. In the letter, Hester wrote, “I am writing concerning reports the federal government has begun housing illegal immigrants in states across the country, often times without the knowledge or consent of governors or legislatures.”
Beebe’s office confirmed on Monday (Aug. 4) that a response to the letter is expected, but there is no time frame on when it will be delivered to Hester.
Matt DeCample, spokesman for Beebe, told 5NEWS that 166 immigrant children entered the state between Jan. 1 and July 6. Those children were placed with sponsor families by the Office of Refugee Resettlement within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The sponsor families were given a background check, and the children were screened for diseases, according to DeCample.
Although the Office of Refugee Resettlement handled placing the children, they are “not classified as refugees,” DeCample said.
Beebe’s office was told by the federal government that all 166 immigrant children placed in the state were brought in through the sponsorship process done by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, according to DeCample.
Fort Chaffee’s Chief of Operations Commander Lt. Col. Dwight Ikenberry told 5NEWS that rumors of illegal children being housed at the base were unfounded and “completely false.”
Ikenberry also said he isn’t aware of any plans to house any illegal immigrant children on base in the future.