Madison opens doors to immigrant children

UPDATED, Friday July 25, 2014 --- 5:37 p.m.

Tens of thousands of children are fleeing violence in their home countries with nowhere to go. Now, the City of Madison has offered some help, despite Governor Scott Walker saying it could eventually "drain our system".

The Shopko store on the near east side is still open for business, but not for long. And once it closes it's doors, it will be one of the locations that the City of Madison offers to shelter immigrant children.

"The federal government and our nation have a crisis, there are thousands and thousands of children," said Madison Mayor, Paul Soglin.

Immigration officials are overwhelmed, tens of thousands of children showing up at the Mexican border, looking for a safe place from the gang violence taking over Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

"The federal government needs sites and so we have responded accordingly, it's the compassionate humane thing to do," Soglin said.

In need of a place to temporarily house the immigrant children, Madison is now on the list.

"I would think that most of Madison would agree that this is the right thing to do."

The city owned Cub Foods building that's now vacant off Nakoosa Trail is the first spot. Meeting FEMA's requirement of being more than 90,000 square feet.
And the second will be the Shopko. Expected to close it's doors by September.

And as for how long these children might stay, it's still unknown.

"They need to go through a process which will identify whether or not they can return to their native land, or whether they will be placed with families here in the states," Soglin added.

We spoke with Representative Joel Kleefisch today. He said there are a number of problems with situation. He said the further north we bring these children, the lower the chances will be of ever reuniting them with their families. He also said we have plenty of children in need here in Wisconsin.
Friday July 25, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The city of Madison has proposed two sites to federal officials looking for places to house unaccompanied children crossing into the United States on the Mexican border.

Immigration officials have been overwhelmed by tens of thousands of children fleeing from gang violence in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They have asked a number of communities to seek places to shelter the children until they can be placed with relatives or friends or returned to their home countries.

Madison has suggested using a former grocery store now owed by the city or a soon-to-be-closed department store as temporary shelters.

Milwaukee and the surrounding county also have been asked to look for sites. A spokesman for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said Friday that nothing concrete has been proposed yet.

Copyright Associated Press 2014

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