At my request, the County will explore the feasibility of a “host family” program for migrant children who have been stranded at the border. The surge of unaccompanied and undocumented minors crossing the border has overwhelmed the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
In the last eight months, estimates suggest that a minimum of 57,000 new children have entered without a parent or guardian, most of them fleeing from violence in their birth countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
With this huge influx, hundreds of children have been placed in emergency military dormitories, akin to FEMA shelters, and other shelters never designed to house large numbers of children.
Santa Cruz County has joined Santa Clara County and other communities in considering a “host family” program, using licensed foster homes to temporarily house some of the children until a court decides whether they will stay or be returned to their homeland. This would not replace the federal process but would provide a more humane placement while the cases involving these minors are pending in refugee court. I estimate that a program in Santa Cruz County would place up to 10 children. Federal money has been identified, but not yet appropriated, for this humane cause.