Despite Mayor Paul Soglin's willingness to find temporary housing in Madison for immigrant children, Wisconsin will not host any temporary shelters, according to Kathleen Falk, the regional director for the Department of Health and Human Services.
Mostly for budgetary reasons, existing shelter structures in other states will be used instead of renovating temporary shelters in Wisconsin and elsewhere. "HHS is no longer seeking facilities for temporary shelters for unaccompanied children at this time," Falk wrote in a letter addressed to Soglin and shared with Isthmus.
"The number of unaccompanied children apprehended and in Customs and Border Protection custody has fallen, while the number of children HHS is releasing to appropriate sponsors as their immigration cases proceed has increased," Falk added in explanation. Most likely a sponsor is a relative living in the United States.
Most of the 51,000 children recently apprehended by customs on the southern U.S. border come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, the so-called "Northern Triangle" of violence in Central America.
A UN report (PDF) found that of 404 migrant children interviewed, most left for the United States for "family or opportunity." Just under half said that "violence in society" was their reason for migrating.
Of the 51,000 kids, only around 50 are currently in Wisconsin awaiting legal hearings in the backlogged immigration system, according to Barb Graham, director of Legal Services for Immigrants at Catholic Charities of Milwaukee.
In the letter, Falk, a former Dane County Executive, thanks Soglin for his "compassion and willingness to help."