South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order on Monday that prohibits the federal government from bringing unaccompanied children from the U.S.-Mexico border to South Carolina.
McMaster issued the executive order in response to inquiries from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration of Children and Families about if the state had resources to place unaccompanied children in the state’s foster care facilities and group homes.
Michael Leach, the head of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, told McMaster about the federal government’s inquiries about taking children from the border and placing them in South Carolina’s foster care and group homes, according to a letter (pdf) dated on April 8.
“South Carolina’s children must always be given first priority for placement into foster care and the State’s strained resources must be directed to addressing the needs of its children,” McMaster stated.
He added: “Allowing the federal government to place an unlimited number of unaccompanied migrant children into our state’s child welfare system for an unspecified length of time is an unacceptable proposition. We’ve been down this road with the federal government before and the state usually ends up ‘on the hook.’”
The Republican governor further stipulated that the “growing humanitarian crisis” along the U.S.-Mexico border needs to be addressed by the White House.
Allowing an influx of minors into the foster care system would place a strain on South Carolina social services’ capacity, his office said.
The federal government’s strategy, McMaster’s office added, will create a plan “to financially incentivize private providers in the short term to the extent that these facilities may prioritize the placement of unaccompanied migrant children over” the placement of South Carolina children. “The State may ultimately incur a long-term financial burden if families are not located in a timely manner and the federal government ceases providing direct support for unaccompanied minors,” according to the release.
According to the letter from Leach, at least “six private providers” have “indicated interest” in placing the unaccompanied children in South Carolina.
Leach’s letter noted that as of April 8, no unaccompanied children have been placed in South Carolina’s foster or group homes.
The executive order comes as a surge of illegal immigrants has amassed along the Southern Border, and as the Biden administration scrambles to find housing for unaccompanied children. So far, 11 facilities have been opened to accommodate the aliens.
As of March 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported nearly 19,000 unaccompanied children in its custody.
Over the weekend, McMaster said he went to Texas to visit National Guardsmen from his state who are stationed there.
“At the border in Del Rio where building of the wall has ceased although the materials have been paid for. That is unacceptable,” he wrote on Twitter.