A local home for children has been asked by the federal government to prepare itself to take in unaccompanied immigrant children from Central America who continue to cross over into the United States.
The United Methodist Home for Children in Mechanicsburg has not taken in any children from Central America yet, and it continues to assist children sent to it from the local county courts systems, the group's Board of Trustees Chairwoman Karen Best said Monday. But the agency has been contacted to prepare itself to provide shelter and care for unaccompanied minors, she said.
The home has been approved to receive an Urgent and Compelling Grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide temporary shelter services to unaccompanied children beginning in August, according to the home's President and CEO David Reed.
"We understand the issue of immigration has raised many questions nationally," Reed wrote in an email. "However, in staying true to the Home's history and mission, we are committed to providing a safe and caring environment for any children who, through no fault of their own, are in desperate need of help while explorations are being made for their future."
The group is one of many agencies across the country asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to take in kids until they connect with relatives, plea asylum cases or enter into foster care.
Border Patrol estimates, as reported by the Associated Press, show that more than 57,000 unaccompanied children have been apprehended since October. Most are from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and claim they are escaping from gang violence.
President Obama has proposed to spend $3.7 billion to address the issue, however, many Republicans believe the Obama Administration isn't telling the public the full story. Local U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-11th, has said he fears that minors will be relocated to agencies across the nation without being properly processed.
There's been a fierce pushback in some areas against the arrival of unaccompanied minors. Protestors in Murrietta, Calif. made national news after they stood in front of buses of children entering their town out of frustration with the influx of immigrants.