BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Children are coming into the United States in droves and federal officials are frantically trying to figure out what to do with them.
There was a possible plan to house undocumented children at a hotel on Grand Island at 100 Whitehaven Road at the Byblos Niagara Resort and Spa. Federal agents apparently thought the building, a former Holiday Inn, was vacant and went there to check it out as a possible location, which caused a stir among local residents.
On Friday, General Manager Scott Swagler says a uniformed Border Patrol agent and two agents from Homeland Security walked into the front door, but wouldn’t discuss why they were there. The news only came out later.
“We had no inklings, no calls about this. Nothing at all,” Swagler said.
Congressmen Chris Collins, R, and Brian Higgins, D, say the children will not be housed there and say they felt left in the dark. Collins’ rep says it looks like the search to find housing for the children might have moved to an empty warehouse on Lexington Avenue in Rochester.
Since October, 52,000 unaccompanied children have been picked up trying to come to the United State, a 99 percent increase over last year. The New York Times reports misinformation about immigration policies being spread by criminal groups in other countries is contributing to the spike.
Many of the children are coming from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras andare smuggled in, sometimes escaping from violence, abuse, or persecution in their home countries.
Once in the US, they are usually safe for years before facing even a moderate risk of deportation. President Obama calls it “an urgent humanitarian situation requiring a unified and coordinated federal response.”
Higgins expressed his frustration with the way things were handled, saying, “Inappropriate and inexcusable. The federal government had no reason to come into this community without ample notice to elected officials to what was going on, they came in to look at something and they didn’t even know what they were looking at, highly irresponsible.”
Collins said in part, “It is unacceptable the federal government is trying to force the hardworking taxpayers of New York to foot the bill”
His rep says Western New York should not be ruled out as a possible location for undocumented children. A similar situation occurred last week in Virginia.