MIRA: Welcome Unaccompanied Children To Mississippi
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The political fight over unaccompanied minors from Central America in Mississippi is heating up, as new data shows close to 200 are currently in the state. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports immigration advocates are saying the children should be viewed as refugees. 

New data released by the federal government late yesterday shows that 179 children caught at the southern US border this year are now living in Mississippi.

 Bill Chandler with the Mississippi Immigrant’s Rights Alliance says most of the children are coming to the U-S and Mississippi to rejoin their families and should be viewed as refugees fleeing violence in their home counties. 

“People are coming because of that. Relatives are trying to get their families out of the country. Just like you would during World War Two. Trying to get your families out of the violence perpetrated by the Nazis and Fascists then. It is no different,” Chandler said. 

Mississippi currently has no federal immigration shelters, so the children who are in the state are with sponsors such as parents or relatives.

 Governor Phil Bryant has sent a strongly worded letter to the federal government promising to block any effort to plce -quote- 'large numbers of illegal immigrants' anywhere in the state. 

The resistance to caring for any additional children angers Greg Patin, the executive director of Catholic Charities. 

“I say we must encounter in these children the face of Jesus who said ‘let these children come to me’. We must see these children for who they are. You vulnerable persons seeking a better life,” Patin said. 

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves says talk of caring for the children entering the country illegally covers up the underlying problems along the southern border. 

“The Obama administration has not focused on what is most important and that is securing our border. They have ask for billions and billions and billions of dollars for anything other than what we need. And what we need is more border security,” Reeves said.

 Second district Democratic Congressman Benny Thompson responded to the Governor's letter with one of his own, saying Bryant's position is not representative of every Mississippian.