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Capital Region could be home to immigrant housing
ALBANY -- The controversy over unaccompanied immigrant children may be coming to the Capital Region.
Congressman Chris Collins from Western New York says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is assessing a site in Albany to possibly house the children who have allegedly crossed the border illegally. The proposed site is off Southern Boulevard at the former Kenwood Academy and Convent.
House Republicans, including Representative Collins, are worried the proposal would put a burden on taxpayers.
Organizers are quick to point out the program has already been funded by federal tax dollars and is in the works. Federal statistics show existing housing centers sheltered more than 13,000 kids in 2012.
"The principal reasons they are leaving their country is conditions in those countries. They are really bad," explained Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department Homeland Security.
Many children come from Mexico, South America, and Central America. Agents find many of them crossing the Mexican border.
The housing centers are designed to keep tabs on kids before they can be placed with relatives, into foster care, or sent back to their home countryin some cases.
"It is monitored with surrogates, and again, it's temporary shelter, so these children can have the violence in their lives addressed," said Congressman Paul Tonko, Democrat from Amsterdam.
Albany is just one of many locations proposed. City leaders are watching the issue closely.
"For this to be a conversation happeningin which Albany would be considered a safe haven for young peopleI think that's a conversation worth having, explained Councilwoman Dorcey Applyrs.
Lawmakers stress nothing has been decided surrounding the Albany proposal. The plan is still in its infancy.