The opening of a facility in Greensboro proposed to house 800 unaccompanied migrant children from the southern border appears imminent, possibly as soon as August.
The Academy, which closed in 2019, leased the 100-acre property to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Agency for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) in June 2022.
The facility, which will become the federal government’s largest active housing facility for unaccompanied minors, will be the interim home for the children ages 13-17 until they can be united with family or sponsors. The average stay is expected to be between two and three weeks. Children will not be allowed to leave the campus during their stay.
Current facilities on campus will be utilized for education, housing, mental health, medical, and case management needs.
DHHS issued a press release on June 23 that stated, “They are working diligently with interagency partners to ensure that unaccompanied migrant children are placed with family members or other vetted sponsors in the U.S. as quickly and safely as possible.”
ORR operates a network of 296 facilities/programs in 27 states and has 5,956 children in their care.
They say they have a proven track record of accountability and transparency for program operations, as well as being a good neighbor in the communities where facilities are located, and the impact of these shelters on the local community is minimal.
The press release mentions that there is no current activation date for the Greensboro facility, and the opening will depend on various factors, including capacity requirements and unaccompanied child (UC) referral rates, among other considerations.
But an official, who was granted anonymity to discuss the matter, told CBS News that ORR intends to open the facility in Greensboro in August.
The report also quotes Neha Desai, a lawyer for the National Center for Youth Law, a group representing migrant children in a landmark court case, as saying the government is relying too heavily on influx care facilities and should use shelters licensed by state child welfare authorities instead.
Child migration rates reached an all-time high in 2022, with nearly 130,000 migrant children entering the government’s housing system.
The Biden Administration received criticism in 2021 after videos were released showing children in crowded Border Patrol facilities in Texas with plastic enclosures and foil blankets.
In June 2022, North Carolina’s Republican congressional delegation penned a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) acting director Andrea Chapman asking for more details.
“Due to the failures of the Biden administration to secure our southern border, every state, including North Carolina, is now suffering from the impacts of the Biden border crisis,” the letter said.
The letter continued by saying, “Given the effects of this crisis and decision to house UACs in our state, we demand answers to the following questions to help protect our constituents.
1. When did communication between the ORR and the American Hebrew Academy begin, in relation to using the Academy as a transition site for UACs?
2. What plans do you have in place to ensure standards of humane treatment of UACs at the Academy? Specifically, what plans do you have to prevent overcrowding, violence, and outbreaks of disease from occurring?
3. Are there other locations in North Carolina your office is in discussions with to house UACs?
4. What actions are being taken by the Biden Administration to ensure the use of the Academy as a transitional campus does not pose a danger to North Carolina communities?
5. How much money are the taxpayers paying to house UACs in North Carolina? How much money are taxpayers paying to house UACs across the nation?”
Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC8, who organized the effort, was joined by U.S. Sen. Ted Budd (who was a Representative at the time) and fellow U.S. Reps. Virginia Foxx, David Rouzer, Madison Cawthorn, Greg Murphy, Patrick McHenry, and Dan Bishop, all representing districts in North Carolina, in signing the letter.
Foxx, who serves as chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, recently spoke in favor of House Resolution 461, which condemns the use of elementary and secondary school facilities to provide shelter for aliens who are not admitted to the United States. She said it would require Democrats to confront the tragedy of their own making at the southern border.
“Democrats must confront reality,” she said. “There are real human consequences to losing operational control of our southern border.”
Cities like Chicago and New York are planning to house migrants in public schools.
Situations such as these, Foxx said, are why “Republicans say every state is a border state and every town is a border town.”
“H.R. 61 is a crystal-clear rebuke of the chaos at the border,” Foxx said. “It applies to K12 institutions because, make no mistake, Democrats are making elementary, middle, and high schools a battleground for chaotic border policies.”
On June 22, the House passed H.R. 461 by a vote of 223 to 201.
David Larson contributed to this article.