The war of words continued Monday over the issue of whether Central American immigrant children who illegally cross the border should be welcomed to Dayton while their cases are considered by federal officials.
On Monday Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and her supporters said U.S. Congressman Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and six area Republican officials made a false claim in a letter to President Barack Obama that Turner’s office released on Sunday.
Turner’s letter said Whaley “has contacted officials at the Department of Health and Human Services and offered the City of Dayton as a site for the relocation of illegal immigrants crossing the southern border from Mexico.”
The letter said “our community does not support Mayor Whaley’s proposal” and does not have the resources to take care of illegal immigrants.
Waves of unaccompanied Central American children fleeing poverty and violence in their home countries have been crossing the border, apparently following false rumors that they would not be sent home, and crowding into border state holding centers or being sent to live with sponsors while their immigration cases are heard.
“We’re very concerned about what’s occurring at the border,” Turner said Monday in a press conference at his downtown Dayton office, appearing with Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer and state Rep. Mike Henne, R-Clayton. “Our hearts go out to those who are affected in the crisis. But we do not have the resources in this community. And certainly, the mayor of Dayton’s position does not give her the authority to pull together the types of resources that will be necessary to respond.”
Turner said Whaley’s remarks send “the wrong signal.”
“Perhaps the mayor should have started by contacting the local congressman, and we could have had a discussion in which she could have been informed of both the risks and the issues,” Turner said.
The letter was signed by Turner, Plummer, all three Greene County commissioners, Centerville Mayor Mark Kingseed and Beavercreek Mayor Brian Jarvis.
“It just shows the fear mongering that the Republican Party likes to do. Be afraid of this. Be afraid of that. Be afraid of little children,” said Doris Adams, chairman of the Greene County Democratic Party. “They want to talk about the sanctity of life but they are willing to kick these children to the curb into a chaos of crime and drugs.”
Whaley said she did not initiate contact with the feds but simply returned the July 8 call of Kathleen Falk, a Chicago-based regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Whaley said Falk wanted to know if Dayton might have vacant sites available to house groups of children and she indicated the feds would cover all costs.
“I just think he needs to check his facts,” Whaley said of Turner’s claim.
When asked to respond, Turner’s replied via email on Monday, “It doesn’t matter who contacted who first. Mayor Whaley is wrong in her attempts to speak unilaterally on behalf of our region.”
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