• Vt. will consider hosting migrant children
     | July 18,2014

    MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration is entertaining an initial inquiry from the federal government about hosting some of the migrant children from Central America who have been arriving at the country’s southern border by the thousands in recent months.

    Susan Allen, a spokeswoman for Gov. Peter Shumlin, said the Obama administration has reached out to states about hosting the 60,000 or so children in U.S. custody. Many of the children have traveled as many as 1,000 miles to reach the United States from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

    The Shumlin administration, Allen said, has told federal officials that it is willing to investigate locations and the logistical requirements needed to host some of the unaccompanied children.

    “Vermont has a long history of offering help to those from other countries in need, and we are willing to explore whether we can lend a helping hand as this crisis is resolved,” Allen wrote in an email.

    However, the Obama administration has not yet made an official request, she said. The state will weigh many factors if such a request is made, she said.

    “To be clear, Health and Human Services has not asked Vermont to host any of these immigrant children,” Allen wrote. “If that request were to come, the state would thoroughly vet the terms — including the impact, if any, on Vermont taxpayers — before making any decisions.”

    There has been no time frame established with the federal government on when state officials will complete their review of the situation.

    David Carle, spokesman for Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said any conversations are taking place directly between the state and HHS and do not involve the state’s congressional delegation.

    He said Leahy has been told that states that accept migrant children “would be held harmless” from any costs.

    Obama has asked Congress to approve a $3.7 billion emergency appropriation to provide additional resources to address the influx of children. It would help increase the efficiency of immigration courts and provide additional shelter and care for the children, Leahy’s office said.

    About $300 million would be used to “address the lawlessness, lack of educational and employment opportunities, and other root causes of migration from these countries,” Carle said.

    Leahy issued a statement Wednesday calling for passage of the emergency appropriation.

    “There is no doubt that maintaining the status quo is not an option,” he said. “That is why we need to take up and pass the administration’s emergency supplemental request without delay.”

    neal.goswami @rutlandherald.com

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