Housing of immigrant children in Bay City sparks demonstrations - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Housing of immigrant children in Bay City sparks demonstrations

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BAY CITY (WJRT) - (08/18/14) - The Bay City Commission has not yet approved a measure to officially welcome immigrant children from Central America.

The controversial issue sparked more demonstrations Monday evening.

About 30 children who came across the U.S. border earlier this year are expected to be housed in Bay City in a few weeks.

Some see the children as refugees. Others see them as illegal aliens.

The two sides gathered outside city hall before the commission meeting, as they did two weeks ago. This time though, there was no yelling.

Those who want to welcome the children brought totes full of things the kids might want and need, like stuffed toys, crayons and toothbrushes.

"We're just going to make sure every kid gets a coloring book, crayons, things to do. These kids can't read," said Sandy Rogers, of Bay City United for Children.

Rogers says bringing the Central American kids to Bay City is a matter of compassion.

"I look at them as refugees. They're running from their country for a reason. And they're already here," she said.

A handful of those who oppose letting Wellspring Lutheran Services house the immigrants say they crossed the border illegally and the federal government must fulfill its obligation and enforce immigration laws.

"I'm really concerned about the illegal invasion in our country and how local governments feel that they have to go ahead and kowtow to some federal agency or federal request to have illegal in their communities," said Pastor emeritus Nathan Bickel, who opposes illegal immigrants.

Commissioner Chad Sibley says he wants to introduce a resolution to the city commission that would officially welcome the children.

"I'd like to get everyone's support on this. What I'd like to do is spend a little bit more time putting the resolution together, passing it to this commission and having them peruse it," he said.

Wellspring is negotiating a federal contract to bring the children to its facility on Tuscola Road. The kids, who will range in age from 6 to 13 years, are expected to stay about 40 days.

"This is probably going to be an ongoing thing," Rogers said.

Commissioners won't meet again until Sept. 8. The children could arrive before that time, with or without an official welcome.

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