COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSAV) – Gov. Henry McMaster signed an executive order Monday banning unaccompanied minors from being placed in South Carolina from the U.S.-Mexico border.
The order directs the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) “to prevent the federal government from placing undocumented, unaccompanied migrant children from the southern border in South Carolina foster care and group homes.”
McMaster says he first learned about the federal government’s inquiries into sending some number of unaccompanied minors to the Palmetto State from a letter from SCDSS Director Michael Leach. The April 8 letter claimed a number of minors would have been placed in group homes licensed by SCDSS and South Carolina foster care.
“South Carolina’s children must always be given first priority for placement into foster care and the State’s strained resources must be directed to addressing the needs of its children. Allowing the federal government to place an unlimited number of unaccompanied migrant children into our state’s child welfare system for an unspecified length of time is an unacceptable proposition. We’ve been down this road with the federal government before and the state usually ends up ‘on the hook,'” McMaster told Leach.
McMaster said he feared the unaccompanied minors would displace some foster care and group home children and strain the system.
Over the weekend, the governor visited the border to meet with National Guardsmen.