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Federal Gov’t. Considers Sheltering Immigrant Children In Westminster

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WESTMINSTER, Md. (WJZ) — A Maryland city is now in the middle of the national border battle. Tens of thousands of children have been caught illegally sneaking into the U.S.

The federal government is now looking to house some of them in Carroll County.

Meghan McCorkell has reaction to the proposed plan.

U.S. officials say they are rapidly trying to open new detention centers for those children, but local leaders say they don’t want one in Westminster.

More than 50,000 unaccompanied children have flooded across the border from Central America. Now word that some of them could be put in a temporary shelter in a former Army Reserve building in Westminster.

City Mayor Kevin Utz says he just received an email Thursday night informing him of the possibility.

“My understanding is they are considering the site. They’re going to tour the site to see if it has the ability to house these type of folks,” Mayor Utz said.

The U.S. Army Reserve building in Westminster has stood vacant for at least two decades.

Congressman Andy Harris is vowing to block the proposal. He says the facility is not set up for a shelter and could pose a danger to the community.

“We have no idea what diseases these children are coming from Central America with. They’re putting it inside the middle of a community. I just don’t think it’s safe until we answer all those questions,” said Harris.

Some county commissioners say they will also resist the shelter plan.

“This would be a serious drain on our taxpayers, on our citizens, on our schools. And there doesn’t seem to be any long term plan,” said Richard Rothschild, Carroll County Commissioner.

Residents WJZ spoke with had mixed reactions.

“Those kids are going to need some help from somebody. And if we can give it to them, then I think we should,” said Robin Nodes.

“Keep them at the border. Turn them around. Instead of sending that bus up here, send it back down to Mexico,” said Al Robertson.

The federal government has considered three other shelter sites in Maryland. All three have been scrapped.

No timeline has been provided for a decision about the Westminster facility, but one local leader tells WJZ it could come as early as Saturday.

The president has asked Congress to approve $3.7 billion in emergency spending to fund detention centers and for more immigration judges.

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