STL may temporarily house undocumented children

ST. LOUIS – Mayor Francis Slay and County Executive Charlie Dooley announced Friday they will apply for federal government grants to temporarily house undocumented children coming through the border.

Slay asked several social agencies, including Catholic Charities and the International Institute, to come up with a plan to house approximately 60 children in existing facilities in the St. Louis area. The International Institute will submit a plan on behalf of St. Louis to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement before the Aug. 5 deadline.

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"The response has been heartening," said Slay. "St. Louisans are generous. When people are in need, we step up – as a community and as individuals. We have done it many times, in many ways. It is our time again. We will leave the Washington blame game to the Washington politicians. They can debate the cause of the crisis, and hopefully one day agree on a solution. Until then, we are going to try to help these kids, because that is what they are – children."

The children will be housed at Marygrove in Florissant, Saint Vincent's Home for Children in Normandy, and Great Circle in Webster Groves.. Slay says these homes have excess space, and other children will not be displaced. The ORR will pick up the cost for up to three years. Incarnate Word Foundation has come forward with $25,000 to cover any unexpected expenses.

Most of the children will live in the temporary home for 30-35 days. They will then be placed with a relative or move into a foster home while their immigration status is determined.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and representatives from the children's homes also spoke at the news conference.

"There are people in St. Louis County that care about people," Dooley said. "We have always cared about people. This country was founded on immigration for God's sake. We will always find ourselves doing what is right regardless of the politics."

The approval process is expected to take some time, and the children aren't expected to come to St. Louis until at least the end of September.

The plan is supported by the Catholic Archdiocese, the United Way of Greater St. Louis, the Incarnate Word Foundation of St. Louis, the St. Louis Mosaic Project, Casa del Salud, Washington University & its George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Saint Louis University, University of Missouri-St. Louis, and the mayors of Normandy, Florissant, and Webster Groves.

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It is important to note, it is not definite St. Louis' application will be approved.

On Thursday, Dallas County, Texas learned it would not be receiving any children. Officials there were told by the federal government that there were already vacancies in the beds at current shelters. Government officials added that the surge of immigrant children coming to the states had slowed.

State Rep. Ann Wagner released the following statement Friday morning, following Slay's news conference:

"The president has created a humanitarian crisis on our southern border by not faithfully executing the rule of law. There are numerous steps the president can take right now without congressional approval and within his authority to deal with this crisis. Since the president isn't interested in leading the American people, House Republicans will take action.

"We need to lovingly and compassionately care for and house these children at the border with a speedy access to hearings in days – not months or years – and reunite them with their families back in their homes. Instead this administration is moving these children farther away from their parents, into our cities, using taxpayer dollars while they languish in uncertainty. These children have already been exploited and moving them even farther away from their homeland is not compassionate.

"The United States House of Representatives is the only body in session working on legislation to secure our border, reunite these children with their families in their homeland and lead the American people with solutions to solve this humanitarian crisis.It's past time for the president to lead, for the Democratic-led Senate to act, and for these exploited children to be protected."

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer released this statement:

"As a father and grandfather, it is my belief that we must do all we can to ease the suffering of these children who have arrived at our borders based on this Administration's failed immigration policies. Congress is capable of helping the thousands of people, including young children, return safely home. While we are a compassionate nation we also are a nation of laws. We must do what is right for the safety of the American people and the well-being of the unfortunate souls lured here."

Ed Martin, chairman of the Missouri GOP, released this statement:

"Apparently failure is an option for St. Louis area Democrat leaders. Not only has St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay willingly ignored our state Constitution, in marrying same sex couples, he is now mirroring actions taken by radical Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, with his recent announcement that Mayor Slay is welcoming illegal immigrants to St. Louis area locations where state and federal tax dollars will pay for failed federal policy.

"Just days after President Obama visited the Show-Me State and whined of "haters" and other child-like rants, Missouri Democrats are scrambling to be like Obama; lawless and wasteful. The self-proclaimed leaders of St. Louis County, Charlie Dooley and Steve Stenger aren't any better if not worse. Dooley in his millions in waste and Steve Stenger in his defense of the indefensible - just ask them, they will tell you.

"With weak and subservient elected officials like Slay, Dooley and Stenger in St. Louis, Barack Obama's lawless White House is forcing their failures on us. Americans and St. Louisans alike deserve true leadership, not the lawless actions and failed policies of Obama, Slay, Dooley and Stenger."

Newschannel 5 talked to a spokesperson for Steve Stenger campaign Friday. They were quick to note Stenger was not at the press conference to announce the plan. They did not comment as to whether the county executive hopeful supported or disapproved of the plan.


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