TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott took part in a conference call Tuesday with top officials from President Barack Obama’s administration to discuss the president’s $3.7 billion plan to stem the flow of unaccompanied minors across the U.S.-Mexico border.
He “participated in an overview session,” Scott spokesman John Tupps told the Scripps-Tribune Capital Bureau. “There was nothing Florida-specific discussed.”
The meeting wasn’t specifically on Scott’s daily public schedule, which only listed “staff and call time” at 9:15 a.m.
Tupps said there was a question-and-answer session, but Scott “did not participate.”
The call, which included other border state governors, was hosted by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Heath and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
“Administration officials underscored the importance of ... working with governors to provide appropriate care for those apprehended at the border,” the White House said, according to the Washington Times.
The call occurred the same day that it was confirmed at least 36 unaccompanied minors that have crossed the border are coming to Florida. They will be housed with families and in group homes in Broward and Brevard counties.
On Friday, Surgeon General John Armstrong, the state’s top health official, sent a letter to federal officials asking whether unaccompanied minors will be coming to Florida and if there are any health issues the state should be aware of, among other inquiries.
Obama’s plan has been rejected by GOP members of Congress. They say the plan is too expensive and stress that unaccompanied minors fleeing violence in their home countries can already seek asylum.
Scott said Obama has “failed to secure the border.”
“It’s no surprise President Obama wants to once again spend billions more in taxpayer money, but what is not clear is if that spending will actually secure our border,” he said in an email.
The campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist didn’t immediately comment Wednesday.
The issue has become part of the political narrative headed into November’s midterm elections.
Many conservatives have pushed for the unaccompanied minors to be sent back to their home countries, most of which are in Central America. Many Democrats have said it’s inhumane to send them back to dangerous areas overrun with gang violence.