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Utah State Senator Calls on Governor to Help House Migrant Children

PHOTO: Utah state Senator Jim Dabakis says Utah and all of the U.S. have a moral obligation to care for the tens of thousands of undocumented children arriving along the nation's southern border until their immigration status is determined. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.
PHOTO: Utah state Senator Jim Dabakis says Utah and all of the U.S. have a moral obligation to care for the tens of thousands of undocumented children arriving along the nation's southern border until their immigration status is determined. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Defense.
July 29, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah state Senator Jim Dabakis is calling on Gov. Gary Herbert and state faith leaders to support efforts to temporarily house and care for 1,000 undocumented children in Utah.

Dabakis says he was motivated to take action after Herbert was among several Republican governors who sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to deport the children to their home countries.

"They're in our home," says Dabakis. "Whether or not we like the way they got here, when you have hungry children in your home, you don't argue with them. You don't fight with them. You don't talk about their parents or about problems. You feed them and you shelter them."

Dabakis says he believes caring for the nearly 60,000 undocumented children in the U.S. until their immigration status is determined is a moral obligation for Utah and all Americans.

Some immigrant advocacy groups are calling for the undocumented children to be granted refugee status in the U.S. because of the dangers, even possible death, they face in their home countries. Dabakis says the children deserve to be cared for while they are in the U.S.

"Can you imagine the torment of parents who chose to put their children into the hands of coyotes, rather than face the horror of where they were living," asks Dabakis. "I don't think these parents love their children any less than we love ours."

Tens of thousands of children are seeking refuge in the U.S. after fleeing Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which are now among the most dangerous countries in the world, especially for young people. Immigrant advocates report children as young as 11 have been forced to join gangs that run sizable areas of these countries, or run for their lives.

The United Nations recently reported Honduras has the world's highest murder rate.

Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT