Proposed children migrant center rejected in Escondido - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Proposed children migrant center rejected in Escondido

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ESCONDIDO (CBS 8) - It is being called a humanitarian crisis, as hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children from Central America pour over the border in Texas every month.

The Border Patrol has apprehended more than 52,000 kids traveling alone since October. Texas and other southwest states are overloaded trying to house them all.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security has looked at opening a holding center in Escondido to house 96 migrant children. However, Escondido planning commissioners denied a conditional use permit that would have turned a former nursing home into a temporary holding facility for unaccompanied children.

More than 200 residents showed up at the meeting Tuesday night to voice their concern.

“It's illegal and shouldn't happen,” said a resident.

A handful voiced their concern about the need for such a holding site.

“I feel the city of Escondido can stand on the side of humanity,” said a resident.

The majority who spoke during the public hearing are opposed to the site in the 1800 block of Avenida del Diablo that would have had a required six foot steel fence wrapped around the facility.

Some of those who opposed say it wasn’t an immigration issue, but about the site’s location and the less than one percent runaway rate, "you can expect every month or two that at least one to two people are going to escape there and be right in our community."

During the meeting Southwest Key, the federal contractor used to house the unaccompanied children, told commissioners on average children are reunited with a family member in the United States or in their native country within three weeks, “Our main goal is to reunite children with their families."

Commissioners denied the conditional use permit citing concerns over parking, traffic, the small size of the facility, and it being located in a residential neighborhood.

Southwest Key would not comment to the media after the meeting, citing policy. The local attorney for the organization says the group has 10 days to appeal the planning commission’s denial and it would go to the full council for a vote.

The mayor has publicly said he opposes the plan.

Southwest Key has appealed a denial at the vacant Quality Inn at 555 Center City Parkway in Escondido.

The attorney says the organization may hold a news conference on Wednesday to address the need to find away to help 3,000 unaccompanied children who are sleeping on cots at the border.
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