Paul sparks political firestorm with immigration comments

Paul sparks political firestorm with immigration comments
Gov. Steve Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Gov. Steve Beshear (Source: WAVE 3 News)
NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd (Source: WAVE 3 News)
NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) –The federal government has no plans to place Central American children into shelters at Fort Knox for now, even though Sen. Rand Paul sparked controversy Monday when he said otherwise.

The U.S. Department of Defense put the Kentucky post on a list of possible sites to house a temporary shelter for the children, who fled their home countries and are in the U.S. illegally. But the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which is in charge of the decision, crossed Fort Knox off the list.

[PREVIOUS STORY: Feds say no plans to house immigrant children at Ft. Knox, despite comments by Sen. Paul]

“HHS’ Administration for Children and Families has no plans to use Fort Knox as a temporary Unaccompanied Alien Children program shelter,” said Ken Wolfe, a spokesman for the agency.

Paul ignited a political firestorm when, at a conference in Louisville on Monday, he told an audience that the children were coming to the installation.

“They’re going to be shipping them, it looks like, to Fort Knox,” Paul said at a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce event. “Some of them are coming to Fort Knox.”

Paul’s office was aware that Fort Knox had been in the discussion as a possible location, Dan Bayens, a spokesman for Paul, later clarified.

Rep. Brett Guthrie, a Republican whose congressional district includes Fort Knox, said the federal government had assured him that the base was not under consideration.

Before the Health and Human Services Department explained its determination, Gov. Steve Beshear said he would leave the decision up to the federal government.

“We need to make sure those kids are safe and cared for until we can get them back home,” Beshear said. “I think they should go home as soon as can reasonably be done.”

While other politicians back away from it, Paul will have to deal with the immigration issue if he decides to run for the Republican presidential nomination, NBC News Chief White House Correspondent Chuck Todd said.

“Rand Paul may be running against (Texas Gov.) Rick Perry in a primary,” Todd said. “So, if you look at it through that prism, then you realize why the national Republican candidates think they have to deal with this issue, they have to confront it.

Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell didn’t think the children should be housed in the U.S. indefinitely, said a spokesman, Rob Steurer.

“McConnell strongly believes that we should secure the border, treat the children humanely and return them immediately,” Steurer said in a statement.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes believes the children should go home when it’s safe to do so, said Charly Norton, a spokeswoman.

“The border crisis is sadly another example of how a dysfunctional Congress fails to address national problems,” Norton said in a statement.

Nationally, Republicans nor Democrats have shown a willingness to deal with the issue, Todd said.

“They’re trying desperately to find ways to shift it away from the fall campaign, because neither party is comfortable with their position,” he said.

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