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Kenwood site may not be ideal for immigrant children

ALBANY -- The former Kenwood Academy site may not be an ideal location to temporarily shelter undocumented children caught crossing the border. While the existing buildings and infrastructure could be appealing, it lacks proximity to immigration court.

Some of the considerations would be proximity to an airport, proximity to federal immigration court, a welcoming community would be of interest and the staffing for any community would be bilingual, said Stacie Blake, Director of Government and Community Relations for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants.

The nearest immigration court to handle the childrens cases, according to Blake, would be Buffalo or New York City. The children would also need trained, pro bono attorneys to represent their cases.

We cant imagine an 8-year-old or a 12-year-old would attend an immigration court hearing on their own to present their case, said Blake.

At a federal level, President Obama is pushing Congress to approve emergency reform, but some opponents believe it doesnt do enough to stop the estimated 90,000 children expected to cross the border. Proponents argue its a humanitarian issue that must be addressed.

Many of the children have survived rape, trauma, all kinds of terrible situations. We want to make sure they're safe and comfortable. Some might need connections to counselors and we want to provide that immediately, said Blake. Once we meet the emergency needs, of course, lets look at the policy to see what can be put in place to make sure children are protected and make sure our border can function effectively.
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