The number of unaccompanied immigrant children in South Carolina has increased to 434, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Eighty-four more children have been sent to South Carolina since news broke last month that 350 children had been placed with sponsors in the state.
S.C. leaders said Tuesday they still have not been given information about the children, who were taken into custody after illegally crossing into the United States.
“To me, the issue is not whether we have 350 or 434 of these children,” said Gov. Nikki Haley in a statement Tuesday.
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“We are big enough to handle the number of children who have sponsors in our state,” Haley said. “What is most important is that the federal government starts securing our border and responsibly dealing with this crisis, before those numbers that are now in the hundreds become thousands or tens of thousands – something that would place an unacceptable burden on our public services and taxpayers.”
Republican Haley said she will continue to press the Democratic Obama Administration to provide more information about the children.
Haley had said previously the children will come with a cost to the state. The state’s eight Republican congressional members also have written the federal departments of Homeland Security and Human Services asking about the immigrant children.
U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, had not received a response to that letter or additional information about the children, his spokesman, Kevin Bishop, said Tuesday.
Little information is available about the children. The Human Services website says the privacy and safety of the children are of “paramount importance.” The department says it cannot release information that could identify or locate the children.
“We don’t know who these kids are, we don’t know where they are, we don’t know their age and we don’t know who their sponsor is,” Haley said after a state Budget and Control Board meeting Tuesday.
Last week, Columbia City Council adopted a resolution to welcome unaccompanied immigrant children and support placing them with sponsors in the city.
Haley said Tuesday she does not support having shelters for the children in Columbia or any other part of the state.