Baltimore Mayor Addresses Child Immigration Crisis

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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There are new comments from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on the child immigration crisis. With hundreds of Central American immigrants streaming into Maryland, she says she’s open to the idea of turning vacant federal buildings into shelters—this, just a day after Governor Martin O’Malley spoke out against the idea.

Rick Ritter has the details.

The mayor says it’s hard to turn a blind eye to the immigration crisis and says whether it’s in Baltimore City or somewhere else in the state, if they can find a place that works, she’s open to the idea.

The nationwide crisis is trickling all the way into Maryland.

“This is a complicated issue,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. “At the end of the day, they’re minors and children.”

Just Friday, Governor Martin O’Malley said hundreds of unaccompanied Central American children are already here and lashed out at federal proposals to house them in large vacant buildings—buildings including former Social Security offices in downtown Baltimore.

“It’s one thing to interview vacant federal buildings on a GSA list. I don’t think anyone in Child Welfare things that’s the way to go,” he said.

Governor O’Malley says he supports an expanded foster care network or placing kids in homes with relatives. Saturday, Mayor Rawlings-Blake weighed in on the controversy.

“I had real concerns on whether that building was fit for that use,” she said.

But she added it’s hard to turn a blind eye to these unattended children. Many are fleeing gang violence and instability at home.

“If we can find a place that works, I think we should be open,” she said. “Whether it’s in Baltimore City or anywhere in the state of Maryland.”

Catholic Charities reveals the federal government contracted with them to house 50 children at Saint Vincent’s Villa, a residential treatment center in Baltimore County.

“Catholic Charities is responding to the humanitarian crisis, to the needs of children that are at our doorsteps,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director William McCarthy, Jr.

Something the mayor says she’d want if it were her own child.

“I would want thoughtful, compassionate people to do the best they could for my child,” she said.

Many say while there’s no perfect solution, they’re puzzled by anger directed at the kids.

“As a civil society and as a history in our country, we always provided care for vulnerable children,” McCarthy said.

Some children are heading to the facility in Timonium. Others are getting services in Fells Point but still, many are scattered across homes in Maryland.

Catholic Charities will also provide health and educational services for the children. They say the housing will be funded through a mix of federal dollars and donations.

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