PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Immigration continues to be a hot topic in the U.S., including in non-border states like Pennsylvania.
Friday, Gov. Tom Corbett addressed the issue and how it affects Pennsylvania, saying health is a major concern.
"We feel for these children that they are fleeing their countries," Corbett said. "We want to make sure they are taken care of and returned to their countries. But we also are concerned about their health and what they may cause as far as health issues in the state of Pennsylvania. From my standpoint, where they are coming in, there are certainly enough military bases in Texas and Arizona that the federal government could at least house them there temporarily to make sure before they send them to any state that their health conditions are okay for that. That they've had all their immunizations and so forth because we have a strong concern on that. From a humanitarian stand point you want to make sure these kids get taken care of but they need to be returned to their country of origin."
KDKA's John Shumway asked if that concern is diseases that could come up and spread to the population.
"Measles is one that comes to mind very quickly and what other diseases that they may or may not have," Corbett said. "We can not be a country that just takes everything that comes here without at least looking into the background of this. And again this is one where the federal government hasn't even talked to the states about "Can we send them into your state?"
"Obviously, Holy Family with the nuns there you know is a good place to take care of children," he continued. "But that's an imposition not only to the neighborhood but the state. What dollars are going to pay for this? Is it the Medicaid dollars that are needed for the people of Pennsylvania already which are very short? Again how are we going to pay for all these services? So we have grave concerns and again the Obama administration hasn't even picked up the phone to say this is what we're going to do can you help us?"
Gov. Corbett Says Health A Main Concern With Immigration
UPDATE: July 9, 2014 --
Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Leader Bishop David Zubik has released a statement defending the Holy Family Institute's decision to provide care for these children while they await deportation hearings.
It reads in full:
"Holy Family Institute, a ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth in Emsworth, will be providing temporary humanitarian aid to children from Central America.
"The children, who are all under the age of 12, will be temporarily sheltered at Holy Family Institute.
"You probably recall that Holy Family Institute performed a similar ministry for many Haitian children after the devastating earthquake in that country. This is exactly the same kind of humanitarian response.
"The children will not remain in Pittsburgh but will be placed with relatives or other sponsors nationwide.
"There have been questions as to why Catholics are involved. The Catholic Church responds to humanitarian crises here at home and all across the world because we are pro-life. Being pro-life requires we protect and care for vulnerable persons from conception to natural death. It has been reported that some of these children are fleeing violence. The current law requires that they receive a hearing to determine if in fact they are refugees fleeing grave danger.
"Whether they are traveling because of poverty, or violence, or with the hope of reuniting with relatives on the other side of the border, followers of Jesus are called to protect these children and help them because they are very vulnerable and defenseless against any abuse or misfortune.
"At the same time we respect the rule of law and the right of nations to have secure borders. Ultimately, the root causes of why people are fleeing their homelands must be addressed by the international community."
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