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Dayton offers immigrant kids shelter amid uproar

By Bethany Royer

August 3, 2014

CINCINNATI (AP) — Despite opposition from a congressman and other southwest Ohio officials, Dayton will offer up two sites where immigrant children from Central America could be sheltered, the mayor and city manager told federal authorities.


The city officials were responding to a U.S. government request to identify potential housing in various cities. Their statement came two days after a Dayton-area congressman and other officials sent a letter to President Barack Obama rejecting Mayor Nan Whaley’s offer to house children of the border influx, saying she doesn’t speak for the region.


“If the federal government asks for our assistance with this matter, we have an obligation to consider that request,” Whaley said.


She has also said the city has an obligation to help ensure that the children “receive basic humanitarian services” while their status is determined.


U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, and six other Dayton-area leaders sent a letter Sunday to Obama saying the community doesn’t have the resources and Whaley doesn’t have the authority to offer shelter for the children. Several local religious leaders responded that Dayton, which in 2011 officially adopted an “immigrant-friendly” policy, should be willing to help out.


There’s similar disagreement around the country about dealing with what Obama has called a humanitarian crisis. The Border Patrol has detained more than 57,000 unaccompanied children since October, the vast majority from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.


In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley has voiced support for a faith-based effort to house some of the children. He also recently launched an effort to make the city more immigrant-friendly.


One Dayton spot offered is a former Navy Reserve facility, and the other is a vacant former distribution warehouse property. City Manager Tim Riordan said that federal authorities had asked for lists of properties of some 90,000 square feet and that proposed sites would be inspected by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to determine feasibility. If selected, the federal government will pay for preparing, operating and staffing the facilities, he said.