A large facility in Denver has been chosen as the next housing site for immigrant children who illegally crossed the southern border.
Starting in April next year, the Federal Center in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, will be home to up to 1,000 unaccompanied children who illegally traveled to the US from Central American countries.
The US Dept. of Health and Human Services will operate the facility, said to be the “largest of its kind in the country” according to The Denver Post.
HHS officials have attempted to reassure the community the shelter is safe and only a temporary stay for illegal minors as they work to reunite them with their families.
“This is a place for a temporary stay, and it will be secured by HHS,” said Democrat US Rep Ed Perlmutter after taking a tour of the building.
Perlmutter said he “wants to assure the neighbors that this isn’t some dangerous situation for them.”
“These kids are coming from a place of desperation, and to give them accommodation and a measure of comfort is the right thing to do,” Perlmutter stated.
The feds claim most children will only occupy the shelter for an average of 32 days, and that illegal minors would remain under strict supervision.
“They remain under staff supervision at all times,” said HHS spokesperson Mark Weber, adding that children would not attend local schools and would “not integrate into the local community.”
Moreover, children housed at the taxpayer’s expense will be eligible for medical screenings and vaccinations, and will obtain classroom and education services in addition to family reunification counseling.
The announcement comes amid a heated national debate over immigration and follows reports that the amount of immigrant children crossing into the US has steadily increased.
“Earlier this month, the Rio Grand Valley Border Patrol sector reported a 101 percent increase of unaccompanied alien children (UAC) and a 154 percent increase of family units crossing the border illegally,” reports Breitbart. “These figures reflect apprehension numbers in October and November 2015 and compare them to the same time period last year, KRGV 5 reported.”
The Federal Center is one of five other shelters in the country opened to house the influx of unaccompanied minors, with others in Florida, Texas and New Mexico also opening up.
Weber said he was unaware of how long the Lakewood Center would operate.