Proposal to temporarily house undocumented immigrant children at - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Proposal to temporarily house undocumented immigrant children at Anniston FEMA facility canceled

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Letter from Mike Rogers to U.S. Secretaries of Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security Letter from Mike Rogers to U.S. Secretaries of Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security
Letter from Mike Rogers to U.S. Secretaries of Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security Letter from Mike Rogers to U.S. Secretaries of Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Homeland Security
ANNISTON, Ala. - One proposal to house some of the undocumented children crossing the United States-Mexico border involved bussing them to a FEMA facility in Calhoun County.

That came to a quick cancellation Wednesday morning, one day after Congressman Mike Rogers criticized the idea.

He learned Tuesday of the plan to use the Center for Domestic Preparedness as a temporary immigration housing facility.  The congressman and other local and federal officials said Anniston is an unfeasible and unreasonable option.

Rogers wrote a letter to the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, and for Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, to oppose the proposal.  He said the Center for Domestic Preparedness is more than 900 miles from the Rio Grande Valley where many border crossings occur.

"It seems implausible that there is not a temporary facility within 900 miles of our southwestern border capable of housing these individuals," Rogers said in the letter.

He called it "a misinformed and misguided attempt to extend the immigration crisis created by President Obama into more communities around the country."

Rogers also expressed concern that the transfer of undocumented immigrants would disrupt Center for Domestic Preparedness operations.

"The National Government was looking broadly at facilities that could be temporarily used to shelter the unaccompanied children," CDP external affairs director Lisa Hunter said.

"The Center for Domestic Preparedness was considered, briefly, but at at this time, we have no available space in which to house the children."

Hunter said the Center for Domestic Preparedness dormitories have beds for about 450 people, as well as dining halls.  She said starting next week and running at least through Thanksgiving, the dormitories are fully booked for the weekly first responder training exercises as well as a 12-week FEMA training course.

"Our primary mission is to train emergency responders, state, local, and tribal.  That's what we're chartered to do here," CDP external affairs director Lisa Hunter said.

"We bring in students from all over the country, and one of the things we do here is house those students on the campus while they're training."

She said there will not be any space to house anyone else, even temporarily.

Following Hurricane Katrina, some storm victims stayed in other buildings on the Fort McClellan property, but that was independent of the Center for Domestic Preparedness.

Congressman Rogers also said in his letter, "to say that such a misguided plan would need to be first reviewed and discussed extensively by the host community is an understatement.  To my knowledge this plan has received no community feedback whatsoever.”

A written statement provided to ABC 33/40 from the Center for Domestic Preparedness said:

In order to enhance the capability to transition unaccompanied children from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), facilities are being identified by the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. General Services Administration as potential locations to increase the medical care and temporary sheltering capacity of HHS. Organizations, communities and states have offered to help with this humanitarian response and the Unified Coordination Group is also evaluating facilities proposed by state and local partners. While only a few facilities will ultimately be selected, a wide range of facilities are being identified and evaluated to determine if they may feasibly provide temporary shelter space for children.
 
CDP’s facilities were briefly considered as part of a broad review of potential facilities for temporarily sheltering unaccompanied children. There are no available facilities at CDP to support this mission, so CDP is not currently under consideration for sheltering unaccompanied children.

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