Published On: Thu, Aug 21st, 2014

New York residents protest church taking in Mexican immigrant children

The Holy Cross Lutheran Church of Long Island and Rev. Dennis Walker announced they would cancel their plans to house at least 40 of the immigrant children from Mexico after a public outcry.
photo U.S. National Archives and Records Administration  April 1942

photo U.S. National Archives and Records Administration April 1942

Lutheran Social Services of New York offered the church the opportunity to take in these children, ages four to 17, until they could be reunited with their families or deported. Walker revealed it was the “Christian thing to do,” but did admit the church was in a “dire financial” situation and the federal funds would amount to $8,000-10,000 per month.

Community members responded negatively, not against the church or the taking of federal money, but to the presence of the children and they could be an endangerment to other children.
One resident said, “I have two little kids. Who’s to say my house is going to be safe?” Another community compared the church to “a hotel right next to my house.” 
Walked said he hoped “people will reconsider in a more rational light,” the church’s plan was officially dismissed at a community meeting. Holy Cross has now missed the deadline to apply for the program. 

Kenneth J. Wolfe, a spokesman for the federal Administration for Children and Families, which oversees the immigrant children program, said the agency is releasing only the names of locations already approved as sites.

MercyFirst, a social service agency run by the Syosset-based Sisters of Mercy, is hosting some of the children. Plans for a shelter at a former Grumman Corp. complex in Bethpage were nixed in June.

Nationally, the Administration for Children and Families projects it will have to find beds for as many as 60,000 boys and girls in the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. That is up from nearly 25,000 placed in the preceding year.

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- Roxanne "Butter" Bracco began with the Dispatch as Pittsburgh Correspondent, but will be providing reports and insights from Washington DC, Maryland and the surrounding region. Contact Roxie aka "Butter" at theglobaldispatch@gmail ATTN: Roxie or Butter Bracco

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