Feds: No temporary sheltering of Central American children in Syracuse

Aug 18, 2014

The federal government is dropping plans to house children fleeing violence in Central America and coming to the United States in temporary shelters, including one considered in Syracuse.

WRVO has confirmed the news, which Syracuse.com first reported this afternoon. A spokesman for the mayor said government officials had notified the mayor of the decision.

It's affective for all sites in the country considered for temporary shelters.

The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees child immigrants and refugees, looked at the former Sisters of St. Francis convent on Syracuse's North Side this summer as a place to house some of the flood teens entering the U.S. in the past year.

Nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children, mostly teenage boys, have fled gang and drug violence in countries like Honduras and El Salvador, and traveled to the United States without adults.

HHS officials toured the convent, on Grant Boulevard, and cleared it to be considered further. The convent is listed online for rent or sale since the sisters moved out earlier in the summer.

When news got out the government was looking at Syracuse, Mayor Stephanie Miner sent a letter to President Barack Obama welcoming the administration to use Syracuse, saying she considered the children to be refugees.

But the open embrace elicited wide-ranging responses from residents. Many agreed with the mayor, but others angrily opposed the move. Neighbors of the convent worried housing the children would increase crime in the neighborhood and put a burden on city resources.

Congress failed to vote on proposed funding to deal with the influx of children, including money for the shelters, before it went on a month-long recess.