BALTIMORE (WJZ)– With hundreds of Central American immigrants streaming into Maryland, Governor Martin O’malley tells WJZ he’s against turning vacant federal buildings into shelters.
WJZ investigator Mike Hellgren explains what O’Malley wants to do with these children.
He tells WJZ they should be living with relatives in the state, pointing to Maryland’s large El Salvadoran population and also proposed expanding the foster care network to provide safe housing.
“I believe all of us as Americans have a moral obligation to care for these children,” said Governor O’Malley.
The Governor says hundreds of unaccompanied Catholic charities 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 and a former army center in Carroll County.
“It’s one thing to identify vacant federal buildings on a GSA list and I don’t think anybody in child welfare thinks that’s a great way to go,” he said.
O’Malley supports an expanded foster care network or placing the kids in homes with relatives.
Many are fleeing gang violence and instability at home.
“The longer term solution is we have to be much better engaged in our own front yard of Central America, otherwise we pay the price for that disengagement,” said O’Malley.
Catholic charities revealed the federal government has contracted with them to house 50 children at Saint Vincent’s Villa, a sprawling residential treatment center in Baltimore County.
“Catholic charities is responding to the humanitarian crisis, to the needs of children who are at our doorsteps,” said William McCarthy Jr. ,the executive director with Catholic Charities.
He says this is not about politics and is puzzled by anger directed at the kids.
“That are here, that need shelter, need care, that are alone. As a civil society, we’ve always provided care to vulnerable children,” said McCarthy Jr.
Catholic charties 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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