DENVER — Officials with Human Services in Denver are considering applying for a $4 million federal grant to house immigrant children who come to the U.S. alone.
The department is in the process of applying for a three-year federal grant to pay for housing the children.
“The children trying to come to this country without their parents are victims of a humanitarian crisis,” said Mayor Michael Hancock Friday. “In Denver, we care about kids. The work of departments like DHS is how we answer the call to serve.
“In this case, the federal government is trying to place refugee children with family members. And while we have not yet been asked, we recognize that we are likely to have relatives in our community who will want to take in their young family members.
“Denver is acting in a fiscally responsible manner by considering an application for federal resources to help us provide those connecting services for kids in the case we are called to act.”
Spokeswoman Ana Mostaccero said a feasibility study and is being conducted and Human Services is consulting with other city agencies. No application has been submitted yet.
If approved, the children would be placed in the Family Crisis Center near West 10th Avenue and Federal Boulevard. The facility has bedrooms, classrooms and a dining hall.
The federal government has struggled to find communities willing to house thousands of immigrant children who come alone to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America. It’s estimated that 90,000 children will come to the U.S. by year’s end.
Political leaders in California and Arizona have objected to housing immigrant children.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who first expressed concerns about the cost and other burdens imposed on the state by a possible influx of refugees last weekend, said he supports Hancock and any other municipalities that may decide to accommodate Central American refugees.
“This is a humanitarian issue for the entire country,” Hickenlooper said Friday. “Clearly the federal government needs to have the resources to resolve this fairly and humanely.
“If Denver or other communities in Colorado want to offer their support and sponsorship while these children are in the legal system, the state respects and would defend that decision.”
The Obama administration has warned that some federal agencies dealing with the surge of minors crossing the border, many of them unaccompanied, will run out of money sometime in August.
The Congress has been debating what to do with immigrant children. The major sticking point is whether Congress should change a 2008 law requiring that child migrants from Central America receive a hearing before any decision is made to deport them.
Critics say the Bush-era law has made the United States a magnet for children fleeing Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
They argue there should be an accelerated process to deport them, just like there is for children who enter the country illegally from Mexico or Canada.
President Barack Obama has proposed $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the matter. He does not advocate changing the 2008 law.