Vermont looks for housing for child refugees from Central America

Gov. Peter Shumlin has asked the mayor of Burlington to identify facilities in Vermont that could temporarily house immigrant children from Central America. The work is preliminary, according to the governor’s office, and there has been no formal request from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to provide housing for unaccompanied minors who have crossed the Mexican border into the United States.

The Obama administration is scrambling to find more placements for a sudden influx of child refugees most of whom come from El Salvador, according to news reports. Gang violence in in El Salvador has spurred families to send children to other nations in the region and to the United States. Children are also coming from Guatemala and Honduras.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security estimates that by the end of September 90,000 children will have crossed the Mexico-U.S. border this year.

Many are currently living in Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, a border patrol station in Brownsville, Texas, and similar facilities across the country, as they wait for immigration hearings to determine whether they are eligible for protection under immigration law. Some of the children have been subject to abuse, rape and human trafficking. Many have relatives in the United States. A number of the children speak one of 20 Mayan languages and have difficulty communicating with Spanish-speaking American officials.

Nonprofits like the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program are prepared to provide pro bono legal counsel for children seeking asylum in the United States, but it’s not clear whether the federal government will make grants available to the parent organization, the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigration, anytime soon.

President Barack Obama has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency funds to address the humanitarian crisis, but as the August recess looms, it appears unlikely to pass. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other Republicans say the children should be returned to their home countries. They favor a much smaller appropriation.

Governors around the country were informally asked if they would be willing to host the children temporarily until their cases are heard, which according to an official with the Committee for Refugees and Immigration take an average of three weeks to process. But without a guarantee of federal funding, many governors, Republican and Democratic alike, have been noncommittal or have rejected the idea.

Shumlin has agreed to explore potential options for hosting children in Vermont.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., last week said he supports Obama’s emergency funding package. It’s unacceptable, he said in a statement on the floor, for the federal government to allow children, many of whom are 6 to 8 years old, to be pushed through “our complicated legal system, terrified, alone, without a lawyer, only to be summarily deported back into the very danger they fled. I will do everything I can to prevent such a travesty.”

Leahy said 50 percent of the children ages 12 to 17 have been forcibly displaced and have claims to international protection because of the violence they have encountered. Those who don’t have claims to immigration relief should be returned to their home countries, the senator said.

Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras have weak governments, Leahy said, “that have failed to implement effective social and economic programs or to protect their most vulnerable citizens from record levels of violence.”

Leahy called on the House to pass the bipartisan Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. The proposal would double the number of border patrol agents and authorize the completion of a 700-mile wall on the Mexican border. The bill also features provisions to deter human smuggling.

“The world’s eyes are watching to see how we respond,” Leahy said in a statement. “We can either make good on the promises enshrined in our laws or we can decide that it’s just too complicated and rewrite the law. If we do that, if we choose to send these children back into harm’s way, we are turning our back on the very principles on which this nation was founded.”

Anne Galloway

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  • Peter Everett

    The gov has a home, I’m sure he could take in a few as well as every Legislator, in the State could. Between all those in office I bet all those children could be accomodated easily.

    • Jason Wells

      That will never happen just wait when all the sudden one of these Pol’s backtracks on supporting this when an unused shopping center near them is filled with illegals. Just like when the powers that be in Burlington tackle homelessness by making it impossible to sit anywhere by removing benches and placing spikes on area where people sit. They pretend to care but cant actually be faced with seeing it.

      • Peter Everett

        I know it will never happen. For once, I wish they would make the effort to “lead by example”, instead of trying to dictate to us.
        Could you ever see Shumlin, Leahy, Bernie or other leaders opening up there homes? Neither can I, yet, I’m sure they want you and I to do so, even though we have a hard time just getting by. All of the above mentioned have the financial resources to take in more than 1 or 2…they won’t, though. They’re America’s Royalty(Their stuff doesn’t stink), much higher than the populous.
        Problem is, no matter how important they think they are, they wind up just like the rest of us. You know…worm food, eternal dirt nap, etc. Only real difference is, all there actions have gotten them a trip South. You and I stand a chance to head North, they have no chance to see the “Pearly Gate”.

        • Paul Lorenzini

          Peter, nicely said!

  • Jason Wells

    Here we go progressive journalism at work in VT yet again. Way to tow the party line here VTDigger! What was once an illegal alien then turned undocumented immigrant then turned into unaccompanied minor has now become child refugee. Doesn’t that sound better?

    Instead of softening the language how about an article asking the real questions? Where will they be housed, for how long, under who’s care, who’s expense, what will happen to the many who will turn 18 before the expected 3 year wait for a court date, will they just be let go into the community, will our already overburdened DCF be responsible for them? These are the questions that our Pol’s should be asked anyone can repeat the Govt. talking points it takes a real journalist to ask the tough questions that matter.

  • Peter Liston

    It’s great to see our state leaders responding to this humanitarian crisis. Remember what the bible says about immigrants:

    “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” Exodus 22:21

    “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me” Matthey 25:35

    ‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner,” Deuteronomy 27:19

    And if that’s not good enough, remember the words carved into the most iconic symbol of American liberty:

    Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

    These are children fleeing horribly violent conditions. We should be proud to give them shelter.

    • Jason Wells

      Peter, Perhaps you would like to care for some of these illegals without me and the other taxpayers footing the bill? If so use the link I provided it will get you in touch with one of the religious services that Obama has been bankrolling since well before this crisis started so that you may foster one or more of them.

      We always have and continue to need legal and lawful immigration into this country what would you say to the thousands of individuals who have been waiting in line to join us here and assimilate as Americans? No one likes a line cutter. Furthermore if we can calls these kids refugees do we not have a process for such things? If the violence is so bad in the home country’s that they are eligible for asylum could they not walk into our embassy and request it? With a trip to our border costing up to 10,000 dollars for these kids you would think they could buy a lawyer and go through the proper channels?

    • Paul Richards

      “Give me your tired, your poor…”
      At the time this poem was placed on a plaque at the base of the statue of liberty, Ellis Island, in Upper New York Bay, was the gateway for millions of immigrants to the United States as the nation’s busiest immigrant inspection station. From 1892 until 1954 potential immigrants were detained there for inspection to determine if they were worthy of entering our country. Too bad we didn’t still do that today. Now we advertise in other countries that anyone can get in here, be free to roam and not have to pay for life’s necessities.
      It’s all part of the cloward and piven plan that obama and his followers have enacted to “fundamentally transform America”.
      Say goodbye to the America we once knew, it will never return to those formidable days. We have seen the best of America. Thanks obama and your followers for destroying the greatest country in history. He did keep that one promise.

    • Bruce Marshall

      The deplorable conditions in these Latin American countries are caused by the evil done by the financial oligarchy of Wall Street and City of London through their ‘economic hitmen’ the IMF World Bank thugs and the insane policies of ‘Free Trade” who have legitimized the drug trade at the expense of true economic development, which includes economic development in this nation.

      Of course it is the Bush (NWO) Administration that is behind this as much as the Democratic waterboys for Wall Street de-industrialization….the issue is pure chaos while the U.S Constitution is utterly ripped apart by warmonger Obama who has started world war III. Maybe the Russian Ukrainian population of refugees being bombed by our terrorist assets in Keiv should be moved in mass to the United States as well.

      Of course we have this issue, but nothing by Bernie, Pat or Peter as regards the genocide
      against Palestinian children by our terrorist client State of Israel.

      Of course through all this we have no Bill of Rights left when the President can murder citizens at will, and the right of ‘Habeus Corpus” has been in essence suspended.

  • Wayne Andrews

    The children can be housed at the Statehouse in DC after the govt adjourns for the season.
    Next could be Leahy home/s, Welchs and then Sanders.
    Now we can start hiring multilingual and special ed teachers from afar, give them a free vouchers and brag about the unemployment level.
    Time for your Vermont vote to change.

  • Ron Mapes

    No worries, the printers are still warm and there are plenty of taxes that can be created to help pay for this. There has to be a generation or two that has not been committed to the debt? Sounds like the school budget problem and feeding VT children has been fixed? Glad to see we are able to take in kids that are unwanted by their own parents and nation.

  • I think it would be awesome to give some of these kids shelter in VT. I’m fine with my taxes paying for that, too. Better than growing heroin in Afghanistan, you know?

    Burlington has been hugely improved by our refugee communities from around the world.

    • Jason Wells

      “Burlington has been hugely improved by our refugee communities from around the world.”

      Almost all the refugee’s in Burlington were granted asylum and or had refugee status applications pending BEFORE entering the US and were thoroughly vetted. Thats no comparison to the issue at hand.

    • Glenn Thompson

      Justin Boland,

      “Burlington has been hugely improved by our refugee communities from around the world.”

      You’re joking….correct? You need to explain in detail how refugees with no education, no job skills, and unable to speak English have made Burlington a better city?

  • Cheryl Pariseau

    While this is a sad situation Vermont cannot handle it. We have one of the tightest housing markets in the country, our government spending is out of control, education costs have been skyrocketing for years, and the DCF has shown that it cannot handle the case load it currently has (3 know deaths in the last year). It would seem that the best way to deal with this situation is for Congress to change existing laws making it easier to return these child (mostly teenagers) back to their country of origin.
    We are a World made up of boards and we must enforce these boards.Why have immigration laws if they are not going to be followed and/or enforced. 10’s of thousands come to this country legally each year. Why should these people legally immigrate to this country when all they have to do is simply cross the boarder?

  • rosemarie jackowski

    It is not surprising that so many have a distorted view of history. The history of the CIA in Central America is not taught in our schools. This is information that citizens are not allowed to have.

    Fortunately there have been some insiders who have tried to inform us. William Blum, Philip Agee and John Perkins to name just a few. They have been on the inside and have worked for the government. All 3 have authored books. Anyone who has not read them cannot understand why we have refugee children on our border.

    We not only have a moral duty to these children, but there are also concerns about a legal obligation. Remember when the US was found guilty in the ICJ. Remember that little episode? We had mined the harbor of Nicaragua. That is a war crime. Why is that not taught about in schools? Reminds me of John Nicolson in ‘A Few Good Men’ — “…You can’t handle the truth…”.

    If the CIA had stayed out of Central America there would be no child refugees. We broke their countries. We now have an obligation to care for these kids.

    • rosemarie jackowski

      P.S. I volunteer my time, 7 days a week, at no charge, to help care for these kids.

    • Jon Corrigan

      These children weren’t even born then rosemarie; it’s likely their parents weren’t even alive then. But now, several decades later, any excuse will do, right?

      • rosemarie jackowski

        Jon…The arc of history is a long one. Ask any Native American today how the course of his life has been determined, in part, by Christopher Columbus.

        It would help if schools taught about what the US has been doing in other countries for decades. We have more than 700 bases in 130 foreign countries. Most of them do not want us there.

        Your comment reflects a dysfunctional educational system that enables the CIA to function with full spectrum dominance.

        For God’s sake, we need to protect these innocent kids. Vermont should come forward and let it be known to all that we will live up to our mythical image and do the right thing. History is watching.

        • Jon Corrigan

          ‘Full Spectrum Dominance’ is so … 80’s. Using your dysfunctional thinking, we should have a country filled with everyone harboring a beef about our involvement in any of the hundreds of conflicts around the globe over the past 70 years.

          Why not start bringing planeloads of Iraqi Christians and Afghani women here? Seems to me they’ve got a better case than anyone from the failed Central American countries.

          • John Greenberg


            “… we should have a country filled with everyone harboring a beef about our involvement in any of the hundreds of conflicts around the globe over the past 70 years.” And we do! The US successfully resettled Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians, for example, after the Vietnam War debacle.

            “Why not start bringing planeloads of Iraqi Christians and Afghani women here?” We’re not “bringing” these kids; they’re coming all by themselves.

            Moreover, the Iraqis have already come: “Since 2007, 203,321 Iraqi nationals have been referred, the USCIS interviewed 142,670 applicants, approved 119,202 for resettlement, and 84,902 have arrived in the US, a tiny fraction of those who wish to apply.”, see footnotes for sources

            In addition, there are 1.8 Afghans in exile in Pakistan, and another million in Iran, though apparently only about 20,000 in the US so far.

          • rosemarie jackowski

            Jon…The concept of Justice for all is important.

            If WE broke it, it is our responsibility to fix it. Reparations are in order. We have been bombing the Iraqi region since 1991.

            It is time to shut down our 7oo bases in 130 foreign countries. We can no longer afford to be in a permanent war – and those around the world want Peace, not Occupation by a foreign military.

  • Paul Lutz

    NO NO NO!!!

    We pay enough in taxes, we can’t afford this. This is a crisis created by a LAWLESS President. Send them back!!!!!!

    Anybody ask how these minors made it from central america to the US/Mexican border in the first place????? We are becoming a lawless country. I just got another notice from the census bureau that by LAW I must fill out there small buisness survey. WHAT LAWS!!!!! This is becoming insane. OBAMA CREATED THIS. PERIOD!!!!!!

    • Jon Corrigan

      You can safely ignore the census bureau Paul. They’re so clueless, I had five different people trying to determine which town I lived in.

      • Paul Lorenzini

        Jon, exactly how many immigrant children have you adopted, with your own earnings?

  • Dave Bellini

    “.. willing to host the children temporarily…”

    Milton Friedman

    Obama and Shumlin should not pretend that any of this is temporary. There is no intention by the government to deport them.

  • Chet Greenwood

    This movement was planned by Obama and has been in the works for some time. Now he wants taxpayers to fund his scheme to flood the U S with illegal aliens and if you disagree then you “have no heart and must hate children”.
    I know first hand that the U S has underutilized military bases in Honduras where we could house these kids. I have associates in Honduras and the economy and crime has not escalated as the Administration claims.
    Somehow– the word is out in Honduras that if you can make it to the U S border you can stay- and then have your family join you. Where do you suppose this information comes from??
    I do not know the details of the other SA countries but my guess it would be the same scenario.

  • David Black

    I would gladly exchange these 1000 illegals for one U.S. Marine Sergent Andrew Tahmooressi.

    • Paul Lutz

      Amen brother!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mary Daly

    Let’s do as much to stop the flow across the borders as we do to take care of the children. There will be no point in immigration reform until we can close the borders effectively.

  • Dennis Riesterer

    I say let’s take care of these kids. The DCF (Dept for Children and Families) would say the child belongs with the parent. feed them, make sure they are healthy and get them back to the parents!

  • Matt Taylor

    Shumlin and the others saw a photo opportunity and used it to make themselves look better. Shumlin especially saw a way to keep the mess that is called Single Payer out of the news for a while in an election year.

    Our state and federal governments are stretched to the limits with spending our tax dollars like water……when they are caught house them in a area near an airport and send them back and the flow of illegal immigrant children might lessen but DC will have them stick around for months/years all the time giving them food and medical care and therefore increasing the flow in….

  • Paul Donovan

    Although I’m not surprised that some are using this tragedy to invent conspiracy theories and bash Obama, I am surprised at the hostility directed at the children/refugees/aliens/whatever you want to call them. I would’ve hoped for comments with a far more generous spirit. And I’m surprised (and pleased) to find myself in agreement with Ms. Jackowski – on this issue at least!

  • Mary Brenner

    And what about our own homeless?

  • Wayne Andrews

    It takes a village to raise a child I just didn’t know it takes my Vermont village to raise children from the equator.
    BTW, one branch of Vermont gov’t is trying to consolidate school and closing down those not needed and another group is trying to import kids to fill the schools up. Nice thought!

  • Paul Lutz

    Anybody ask these “leaders” if the children were screened for disease??

    We have a leader who continues to push for single payer healthcare without a way to pay for it ( breaking the law) taking request from a President who through executive action ( breaking the law) has changed immigration policy ( dream act) and annouced to the world that these people would be allowed to stay here ( check out the fact that the US goverement was solicting bids for busing back in Feb. All backed by Leahy who in his leadership role allows the IRS to target groups based on their political alliance ( AGAIN, against the law). Wow!!!!!!!!

  • Faith King

    The US backed a coup d’etat in Honduras in 2009, in which a democratically elected government was overthrown. The new regime immediately began violent repression of dissent. Since the coup (which the United States approved!) the Honduran murder rate has ballooned. The UN now considers Honduras to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world. There is a shiny, birght line between current conditions there and the US of A!

  • Marie Parker

    There are too many people in our state that need food shelter and education that were born here. As others pointed out; we CAN NOT afford to support those in need that are already here and we are going to take on more. Our country is financially strapped and taxed to death. I know my household lives paycheck to paycheck wondering where we are going to get the money for heat, food, etc. We need to stand up to Shumlin and say enough already!

    • Faith King

      Where were all these people “standing up” and saying “no” when the Bush administration lied-us into a decade long war?? Reuters estimates the Iraq war alone cost the US two TRILLION dollars. Tack on Afghanistan and the bill jumps even higher. Where were all you penny-pinching, so-called fiscal conservatives then? Now you are arguing we can’t afford to even temporarily take care of some kids? Surely you jest. Kids who are running from countries that we have been happily screwing-up for decades… will the idiocy never end?

      • Jon Corrigan

        Perhaps all the ghetto parents (from Detroit to Chicago to Albany to Memphis and beyond) should send their kids to Ciudad Juarez, where they could toss their documents and cross the border as ‘refugees’. Fifty plus years of democratic control of these slums surely qualifies them for some relief, right? ‘Kids who are running from cities that we have been happily screwing-up for decades’…will the idiocy never end?

        • Faith King

          ? Is the Honduran government interfering with the running of Albany? Did I miss something? The Mexicans are supporting coups in the US? Really? And I guess Americans aren’t the number one customers of “product” from central america either…nah. Let’s keep on snorting that coke and pretending the mayhem has nothing to do with us.

  • John MacGovern

    If a nation cannot secure its own borders, it ceases to be a nation-state.
    1) Secure the border, period. If it takes a fence, then build it.
    2) Reunite these children with their parents, back to their homes. At once. If you want to immigrate to the USA, go to the US Consulate and apply for a visa.
    3) If US Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi is still in a Mexican jail a week from today, send the US Marines into Mexico to free him.
    These are my 2 cents. And, don’t you love the picture of the three clowns headlining this story?

  • Michael Bayer

    “Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore/Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Emma Lazarus quoted on the Statue of Liberty in new York Harbor.

    All of you who just want to get rid of these kids are so un-American it is embarrassing.

  • rosemarie jackowski

    If we refuse to show compassion to these little kids, will we become known not for ‘Vermont Green’, but for ‘Vermont Mean’. Will we change our license plates from ‘Vermont Strong’, to ‘Vermont Wrong’.

    Remember this is happening on the heels of the Burlington Law and the Bennington anti-panhandler law. People across the country are starting to wonder what’s happening up here. I know. I have thousands of blog comments up and I try to focus on the pulse of the nation.

    Let’s reclaim our old reputation as a kind-hearted, compassionate, loving people. Real Vermonters don’t hate little kids. Real Vermonters take care of kids.

    • Jon Corrigan

      Real Vermonters are stretched pretty thin, rosemarie. If you’re not, then please feel free to offer to support a couple dozen of these ‘kids’. But please don’t get on your high horse and dictate to the rest of us how we should continue to give what we don’t have to support kids that have parents somewhere else.

  • Angelo Napolitano

    Its all about the MONEY…. “THEY” need to get a big CHUNK of the MONEY…. Link below…… The state gross product is not Maple Syrup….. ITS GRANTS….. if all this FREE MONEY was to stop today this state would collapse in less than SEVEN MINUTES….. Its not only children “THEY” want to bring to Vermont its young adolescence also…. and families…. So where is the TRUTH and the TRANSPARENCY ????? oh wait there ain’t any…. So let the DOME DWELLERS add unnecessary burden to our communities…. schools…. hospitals….. Who will pay for their education ?? Can you say your property tax bill…… The diseases like H1N1… T.B. … Swine Flu…. can yo also say– MANDATORY VACCINATION ???????

  • Paul Lorenzini

    We should just invite the whole world to America to “share the wealth” right?

    If you want more foreign children here, then fight for adoption rights, not more burdens on the tax payers.

  • ray giroux

    Bravo Angelo! You nailed it! I’ve read all the post here and much of the narrative used is straight from Main Stream Media, which is controlled by the Feds. Ken and Barbie script readers saying what they are told, from a script.

    Here are a couple articles with an alternative view of the situation, with reference links and commentary.

    Watch the video of the Boarder Agent explaining the situation of asymmetrical warfare. Obama has been planning this for months.

  • David Black

    The US should start shipping pallets of birth control devices with specific instructions to theses countries ASAP. That should help in the long run.

    • Patrick Cashman

      Oddly, that aligns perfectly with the views of George Plumb and the Vermonters for a Sustainable Population gang: “Our foreign aid should include substantial support for family planning information and services.”

      • Paul Lorenzini

        David, Agenda 21 is your bible?

  • Carl Marcinkowski

    This is certainly a complex issue. But what I take away from this thread of comments is how so many people are in an alternative reality. Conspiracy theorists, dreamers and just mean, judgmental people dominate this ‘discussion’. A lot of chest pounding but little intelligence. Par for the course here.

    The USA should not be the world’s police department. The UN is a joke and as such should be removed from NYC and all “ambassadors” sent back to where they belong and get a real job (or back counting their money). We (the countries of the world) need to start over. However the problem is, so much of the world’s problems have the USA’s fingerprints on them. It would be wrong to wash our hands of all of it. The poor children? Maybe they should be in refugee camps in the more stable Latin American countries until the crisis is solved.

  • Paul Lorenzini

    Maybe those children should fight it out in their birthplace, instead of becoming spoiled Americans.

  • Bruce Marshall

    Of course the Palestinians or Russian Speaking Russians will not be given Asylum by Welch, Sanders nor Leahy who continue to support World War III against Russia, against Syria, Against the legitimate government of Ukraine now deposed, against the Yezidi as the CIA/Mossad backed ISIS rebels go on the murder spree, not to mention the ethnic cleansing perpetrated by Israel with American support.

    Welch, Sanders and Leahy are going along with treason against our nation and supporting Crimes Against Humanity.

    If Peter Welch will not do his primary duty, to uphold his Oath of Office, then he needs to resign or be put on a list of those who in power have supported crimes against humanity as pushed by the Obama Administration.

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