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Unaccompanied Immigrant Children Could Be Headed for Westminster

Government officials have looked at additional Maryland sites to shelter children crossing the Mexican border alone.

Former U.S. Army Reserve site in Westminster. (Credit: WBAL screenshot)
Former U.S. Army Reserve site in Westminster. (Credit: WBAL screenshot)
The federal government is reportedly considering the former U.S. Army Reserve complex in Westminster as a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant children.

Westminster Mayor Kevin Utz told WJZ he learned Thursday night that federal officials planned to tour the facility "to see if it has the ability to house these types of folks."

The building contains small rooms, a kitchen and classroom space, with barbed wire outside, according to WBAL, which reports it is "not in move-in condition." It has been vacant for two decades, WJZ reported.

Due to the number of children crossing the Mexican border without adults—90,000 are projected this year, versus 24,000 last year—the federal government has opened temporary shelters at three military bases in Texas, Oklahoma and California and is scrambling to find additional locations across the country, CBS DC reported. 

Approximately 250 children have been crossing the Mexican border daily, most from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, according to The Baltimore Sun.

They are running from gang violence and have heard the U.S. "is treating young illegal immigrants with unprecedented leniency," The Washington Post reports.

By law, U.S. border patrol agents send unaccompanied children who are from noncontiguous countries to the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which operates 100 long-term shelters, according to Education WeekThe average length of stay is 35 days before a child is released to a parent or adult sponsor, Education Week reports.

The shelters are bursting at the seams, so some children are staying in border patrol stations and approximately 1,000 were sent to a warehouse in Arizona, according to CBS DC.

The federal government has been searching for a long-term shelter site in Maryland since at least last month.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the Office of Refugee Resettlement, considered a former Prince George's County orphanage that was later a drug treatment facility; the complex in Baltimore City that previously housed the Social Security Administration; and a Montgomery County boarding school, according to The Baltimore Sunwhich reported all were deemed unsuitable. The Baltimore City facility was reportedly scrapped because it was not designed for residential use.

According to WJZ, the decision on the Westminster facility may come as soon as Sunday.
Thomas Crandall July 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM
I was passing by the former Army Reserve facility on Malcolm Drive this Sunday morning and to my utter surprise and disappointment someone had spray painted wording that we in Carroll County would not allow illegal immigrants to be housed Carroll County. First the person that did this in violation of Federal law by defacing federal property. This truly shows the ignorance and disrespect when it comes to obeying laws. The children are not being settled here, but would be housed in a safe place till they get their legal hearing which has been promised by a law written under the administration of George Walker Bush when he was president of these United States. Where is the true Christian, and humanitarian in Carroll County. Do we have such disrespect for humanitarian relief that we allow people to deface and break the law to prevent people from getting their do? We as citizens of the is county, and country need to sit back and realize that we live in a very diverse and prosperous country and can well afford to help these children till a solution is found to safely return them to their parents in Central America.
Anna July 14, 2014 at 10:21 AM
Does anyone in this administration know the meaning of a return bus ticket? What sort of irresponsible parent sends their kid off to summer camp USA? We cannot become the world's baby sitters. Then we would be taking kids from all corners of the world where there is trouble at home. We must improve life for our own needy children.
Abby Chambers July 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM
Why do we not take the children back to the embassy where they are from and allow the countries to deal with the situation? Why does this become our problem? What is this going to cost the American people? Yes I sympathize with the issues in these countries so lets give them a helping hand to make it a better country where you do not have to send your child away to survive. We need to use bans for places that don't support personal rights.

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