County to create host-family program for unaccompanied immigrants

Board of Supervisors votes 4 to 1 to house up to 50 children

The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to create a host-family program to house up to 50 unaccompanied immigrant minors -- placing the county in the midst of the national debate over the wave of children and youth, mostly from Central America, who have been illegally crossing the U.S. border in large numbers for the past several years.

The board voted 4 to 1 on the issue, with Board President Mike Wasserman opposing the program due to county resources he said are already stretched thin.

The program will cost an estimated $200,000 to create, according to the county. The estimated monthly cost to place each child is $2,000.

County administration is now tasked with returning to the board on Aug. 26 with a full implementation plan for the program, including

• a service model with community partners

• the status of obtaining necessary state and federal approvals and financial commitments

• a plan for recruitment and support for local host families

• logistics for transportation and placement of children in Santa Clara County

• a strategy for helping reunify children with their families, in cooperation with the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement

The board also directed county counsel to explore and report back on efforts to identify pro bono attorneys who can provide legal representation to the children.

The host-family model will be similar to a student-exchange program, according to the county's statement. Volunteer families would be screened and children would be evaluated and placed in homes for support, housing and daily care.

The host-family program will be separate from the current foster care system, according to the county, and does not interfere with or use foster care resources. Unlike the foster-family model, families of these children have not relinquished parental rights and their cases are pending in refugee court rather than juvenile court.

If the board approves the program on Aug. 26, the county will begin preparing to place up to 50 children. The county said that reimbursement is expected from the federal government.

Citing the program's costs, Wasserman maintained his opposition to the program.

"I cannot support the creation of a new program, further stretching our resources, when I know we have so many unmet needs in our community already," he said.

According to the county, the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol office estimates that more than 90,000 unaccompanied children will cross into the United States in 2014. This is almost three times the known number in 2013.

Some of those children, who are most often fleeing gang violence and/or unstable family situations, are leaving with the goal of getting to Santa Clara and San Mateo counties to reunify with family members living here, particularly in East Palo Alto, Redwood City and San Mateo, according to Community Legal Services of East Palo Alto attorney Helen Beasley.

Beasley, who focuses on juvenile immigration cases, said she has seen young clients coming to the area from Central America – primarily El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras – since 2011, though the numbers have steadily increased since then. (Read Local nonprofit aids in Central American immigrant crisis)

"We each have a moral obligation to help relieve human suffering," Supervisor Dave Cortese said in a statement. "Santa Clara County is standing with those communities around the nation who have offered to provide a safe haven for these refugee children who are awaiting federal asylum hearings."

A 2008 federal anti-trafficking law ensures that unaccompanied immigrant minors caught at the border have a chance to stay in the United States rather than be deported immediately. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act guarantees an automatic legal hearing to unaccompanied children who are not from Mexico or Canada and who have crossed the border illegally.

The Act also directs them to be placed under the care of the federal Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), which is charged with reuniting the children with U.S.-based family members, if possible. During this process, they are housed in ORR shelters, which are located not just at the border but across the country (including one across the San Francisco Bay in Pleasant Hill, near Walnut Creek).

Santa Clara County's host-family program will be developed in collaboration with local community organizations that currently provide related services, including the Bill Wilson Center, Catholic Charities, EMQ Families First, Community Health Partnership, Center for Employment Training (CET), Working Partnerships USA, Services Refugee Rights & Education Network (SIREN) and Unity Care.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 6, 2014 at 10:06 am

[Post removed.]

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Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:31 am

KP is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:36 am

Hmmm is a registered user.

Chances seem pretty low that this issue can be discussed rationally, factually and without bigotry. How sad.

Like this comment
Posted by Jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 6, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Jerry99 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

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Posted by catl8y
a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2014 at 4:05 pm

catl8y is a registered user.

Honest oppinion; Those that have come legally should have first priority! Nuff said!

Like this comment
Posted by SCB94303
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 6, 2014 at 5:24 pm

SCB94303 is a registered user.

[Portion removed.] The kids should be with their own parents, not away from them looking to stay with strangers. Not a good situation at all. They should all be sent back as far as I care.

Like this comment
Posted by Jerry99
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Jerry99 is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

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Posted by iSez
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 6, 2014 at 7:53 pm

iSez is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Eric Schmist
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Eric Schmist is a registered user.

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Eric Schmist
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 7, 2014 at 10:39 pm

Eric Schmist is a registered user.

The Administration does not care about these kids. They care about the onslaught of "voting and voicing" aged parents, assorted relatives.

The Administration would generously put these kids UP FOR ADOPTION, if there wasn't a bigger roll-out surprise coming down the pike.

Any legal US "relatives" who anticipated their arrival, or want these kids should be able to claim them and have first chance to adopt them and sponsor them for the next 15+ years until they become of age without government welfare assistance. If they truly were coming here to reunite with their relatives, their relatives would have bought them airfare or traveled to meet them at the border or where ever.

As "Federal Government Guests" they are a DANGEROUS LOT. Any ill treatment or abuse, or molestation or any "claims" made by these children, or their claimed-to-be-parents or relatives (when they ultimately arrive, and they will!) will be in FEDERAL COURTS, as they are Federal Guests. Any issues will be Felonies, vs. localized issues... A BIG DEAL.

This calculated chess game is not a winning game for Americans.

If the government cared about these kids, they would simply find them permanent parents But they are looking for hosts instead. Which means all will ultimately be reconciled with some other illegal aliens claiming to be their parents.

Then who will sponsor the parents? Our tax dollars? We accept the child, the child is a citzen, therefore the parents and related relatives are also citizens, just like coming over the border to birth your kid in an Ameprican hospital so you can stay in the states and become a welfare recipient for your American citizen child who was just born here.

How many hospitals have gone bankrupt in San Diego, over the decades.. Plenty.
Just like the County of Santa Clara will have it's own little monthly commitment of $5K /per Federal child guest and parents for the next 15+ years.
Those costs are sure to kill some pension plans for county retiring employees..

You agree, now you get to foot the bill.

Let charity start in the Obama Household, every senators' household, every member of congress' household and every house representative's household first.

Like this comment
Posted by Eric Schmist
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Aug 7, 2014 at 11:22 pm

Eric Schmist is a registered user.

[Multiple repetitive posts removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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