DC mayor blocks planned shelter for unaccompanied migrant children

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) has moved to block the Trump administration’s construction of a shelter for unaccompanied migrant children in the district.

The Washington Post reported that Bowser blocked the shelter’s construction by using emergency regulations that bar the city’s child welfare agency from issuing licenses to facilities that house more than 15 people.

{mosads}Federal officials had planned to oversee the construction of a 200-bed facility in the Takoma neighborhood built by Maryland-based contractor Dynamic Service Solutions.

The federal government awarded Dynamic Service Solutions with a $20.5 million contract to build the facility, but the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency later found the contractor’s application to be “inadequate,” though it did not reject it completely, an unnamed D.C. official told the Post.

Bowser said Wednesday that she would not block the construction of all facilities, according to the Post, but added that her administration was committed to “making sure emergency housing facilities that support children are small and dignified.”

“If the Trump-Jemal approach was presented with smaller, dignified facilities with known providers, the District of Columbia’s response would be different,” said Bowser’s chief of staff, John Falcicchio, referring to the developer behind the effort. “No more warehouses.”

At a press conference last week, Bowser reportedly highlighted the 2014 disappearance of an 8-year-old from a homeless shelter in the district as a reason for maintaining limits on shelter sizes.

“We know when facilities are too big to support children, okay?” the mayor said, according to the Post. “And I don’t need to remind anyone we don’t know where Relisha Rudd is, and her parent was with her.”

According to the Post, six residents in the district who once held senior positions in the Department of Health and Human Services under former President Obama had written to Bowser last week, urging the mayor to reconsider opposition to the planned shelter.

“While the District’s intent in opposing an unaccompanied children’s shelter is noble, such action is unlikely to benefit children and may make it more likely that children are harmed, forcing longer stays in crowded Customs and Border Protection facilities or in massive temporary shelters that are not licensed by a state or local child welfare agency,” they wrote, according to the outlet.

Plans for the shelter come as the Trump administration seeks to address a rise in the number of immigrants illegally crossing the U.S.–Mexico border.


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