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Governors of Oregon, Washington Demand Answers on Family Reunifications

<p>Oregon Gov. Kate Brown gives a speech in this May 2015 file photo.</p>

Alan Sylvestre


Oregon Gov. Kate Brown gives a speech in this May 2015 file photo.

As federal officials race to reunite immigrant families separated at the Southwest Border, the governors of Oregon and Washington want answers.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee joined leaders from four other states Friday in signing a stinging letter to Trump administration officials.

“As governors representing states where separated migrant children are being detained, we write to express our growing concern with this Administration’s ability to reunify families…” the letter reads. It says the governors “remain deeply concerned that wholly inadequate resources and procedures are in place to ensure children and parents are reunified safely and securely.”

Also signing on to the missive: the governors of Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey and New York.

The three-page letter comes as officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security attempt to meet deadlines set by a federal judge. Under that order, nearly 3,000 children separated from their parents via the Trump administration’s recent “zero tolerance” policy must be reunified by July 26. Children under the age of five are supposed to be reunited far sooner.

But, as the letter notes, news reports have indicated the process for getting children to their parents is mired in chaos. What’s more the governors say they’re concerned that the Trump administration might ultimately house children with long-term sponsors—not their parents or other relatives.

So the governors have posed a series of detailed questions, including the number of kids who’ve been reunified, where they’ve been placed, and how many have been given a lawyer.

The letter is the second Brown sent to Trump administration officials in recent weeks. In a June 22 letter, she demanded answers about immigrant detentions by June 25. She still hasn’t received a response, her office says.

Copyright 2018 Oregon Public Broadcasting

Dirk VanderHart is JPR's Salem correspondent reporting from the Oregon State Capitol. His reporting is funded through a collaboration between public radio stations around the Northwest called the Northwest News Network.