Four Representatives of Congress visited Bethany Christian Services on Thursday to discuss the care of unaccompanied children and the separation of those children from their parents at the border between Mexico and the United States.
Michigan Representatives Dan Kildee (D-Flint), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan spent about 90 minutes with some of the children who are in Bethany’s temporary fostering program at one facility.
Although Kildee decline to comment on how many children he saw, he said “there were a good number of kids there.” The Business Journal reported in June that Bethany had 81 children who were separated from their parents in its care.
According to Dingell, Bethany knows where the children’s parents are, but Dingell said they don't know how all the younger children will be reunited with their parents by July 10, the date set by a court to reunite children under age 5, or by the court-mandated July 26 deadline to reunite older children with their parents. Dingell said the children are able to speak with their parents over the phone.
Kildee said the children are being well taken care of. Nevertheless, Kildee, who previously worked in the child welfare system, said the children have clearly suffered some sense of trauma.
While Bethany is trying to quickly reunite children with their parents, Huizenga said the Office of Refugee Resettlement funds the children’s physical and mental health care needs.
Dingell said it’s the least government officials can do.
“I want to keep terrorists out of this country,” Dingell said. “I want to keep MS-13 gangs out of this country, but I don't want to lose heart and compassion for the people who need help.”