The Baltimore Sun reported last week that Catholic Charities Maryland is seeking a federal grant of about $2 million from Health & Human Services (HHS) to house Unaccompanied Alien Children (UACs) at St. Vincent’s Villa, 2600 Pot Spring Road in Timonium. The grant application is due by August 5. The grant will pay for the housing of 50 residents, which would more than double the number of current residents at the facility, now at 40. St. Vincent’s website describes its services as offering “residential treatment and diagnostic facilities for children with significant emotional and behavioral challenges”.
Do these children fit that description?
Recently, two other sites were rejected in Maryland due to objections raised by local officials in Carroll County and Congressman Andy Harris for a Westminster site, and both U.S. senators and the mayor for a site in Baltimore City at an empty SSA building.
HHS seems to be taking the suggestion of Senator Mikulski, who in a CBS article last month said of the Baltimore City site, “We have told the federal government to look at other facilities in Maryland and to work with faith-based organizations that are experts in the field of child welfare”.
Is it smart to support locations in Maryland when it requires these children to be transported on public airlines and buses prior to any medical screening for infectious disease? The CDC estimates that most medical screenings occur 30-90 days after the immigrants arrive in the U.S.
Delegate Wade Kach, who represents the district just north of the proposed housing facility, has raised objections to the plan, siting reports of foreign diseases, gang recruitment, and the aiding of breaking immigration laws by the federal government. Delegate Kach has suggested that at least two public information hearings be held before a decision is made on the site. There are numerous unanswered questions.
County Executive Kamenetz, while failing to take a defined position, agreed with Kach that the federal government must provide a solution.
Are these housing situations considered to be temporary, or indefinite solutions to this federal issue?
Councilman Todd Huff, who represents the district in which the facility is located, also opposes the plan, saying in a Baltimore Sun article earlier this week that he has been “getting calls from constituents with concerns.” He said we need to address problems in our own backyard before tackling other problems.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, responding through his press secretary Jaime Lennon, is holding off on taking a position until more details are known and a final proposal is available for the site. "we need to know how many children will be there, how old they are, the time-frame of their stay, the supervision plan, the impact on local resources and plans for funding. We want to be sure the site is appropriate for both the children as well as the surrounding community."
A blog on The Last Refuge this week outlines the locations and grantees across the country for HHS grants awarded to house UACs. In Maryland, The Last Refuge identified two other grant awards made in 2014 for this purpose, siting source documents. One grantee in Windsor Mill supports approximately 60 children and another in Baltimore City at 3300 Gaither Road supports a whopping 375 estimated UACs. If the Timonium location becomes a reality, that would bring the known UACs housed in the Baltimore metropolitan area through HHS grants to nearly 500.
What are we doing to comply with CDC recommendations regarding immigrant health and medical screening in order to protect our local citizens?
The Last Refuge has identified that an average of $40,000 per resident is used by HHS in their grant award calculations. These awards are paid for by citizen taxpayers. The total of the three awards, Windsor Mill, Baltimore, and Timonium, sum up to about $20 million, based on the research by The Last Refuge.
Citizens can contact decision-makers, preferably before the August 5 grant application deadline, at the numbers below:
Archdiocese of Baltimore: 410-547-5437 or 410-547-5555
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger: 202-225-3061
Senator Jim Brochin: 410-841-3648
Delegate Susan Aumann: 410-841-3258
Delegate Steve Lafferty: 410-841-3487
Delegate Bill Frank: 410-841-3793
Councilman Todd Huff: 410-887-3387