LINCOLN, Neb. Advocates for the unaccompanied immigrant children who were placed in Nebraska are warning that Gov. Dave Heineman's recent comments about the situation could hurt the Republican Party's efforts to win Hispanic voters.
The advocates on Friday accused the GOP governor and members of the congressional delegation of politicizing what they described as a humanitarian crisis. As many as 90,000 children are expected to cross the U.S.-Mexican border by the end of 2014, and federal officials say more than 200 are in Nebraska.
Heineman and members of the congressional delegation sent a letter to the federal government this week requesting more information about the children's whereabouts. The governor says he wants to ensure that people in the country illegally aren't receiving government benefits, and he voiced concerns about potential health risks.
Many of the undocumented children are coming from dangerous parts of Central America where there is political and economic turmoil.
Yolando Chavez Nuncio, a second generation Mexican American urged the public to, " rethink and listen to what you're hearing and believing about why mothers are choosing to send their kids here." She said, "They are not sending their children on vacations."
Activists met to work on sending a collective message as a unified voice: end the name-calling on both sides and work together to save the children who are coming to Nebraska. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done.
Ben Salazar, a community activist, did say he was misquoted and he never called the Governor a "racist."
"I may have used the word bigot," said Salazar.
Marty Ramirez, a Mexican American Citizen who served in Vietnam spoke today and also said, "Shame on government officials who hide behind their own agenda."
Senator Ernie Chambers also spoke and said he is the "defender of the downtrodden" for these children.
Activists expressed outrage and disappointment because they say the governor is leading the state astray...and they say he doesn't understand HIPPA laws.
Shirl Mora, a civil-rights attorney in the state spoke today and she said that the governer needs to "get proper legal counsel from his attorneys before he goes half cock about children," said Mora.
Many of the activists say they are beginning to organize a legal team to represent some of these children, if it's necessary. Shirl Mora, is one of the attorney's ready to defend these children.
The organization is also gathering donations for refugee children and families.
La Casa del Pueblo, a 501 c (3) Organization will be accepting donations on behalf of the children and accompanying adults who are being housed in temporary detention centers along the southern border.
If you'd like to know more about how to donate, contact Ben Salazar at 402-731-6210 or 402-212-7346. They are accepting clothing,shoes, general supplies, hygiene items and any medical supplies. The point of collection is 5941S. 25th St. Omaha.