Officials in Baltimore County reacted Friday to a proposal by Catholic Charities to shelter 50 immigrant children at a facility in Timonium, with a state delegate who is running for the County Council opposing the plan and calling the immigration crisis "a federal problem."
"I do not support this proposal at all," said Del. Wade Kach, a Republican who is a candidate for County Council in the district where the children would be housed.
"I just have a real problem with the states and communities bearing the brunt of a problem that was created by the Obama administration," he said. "It's a federal problem, and they need to solve it on the federal level."
On Thursday, William J. McCarthy Jr., executive director of Catholic Charities Maryland, said his agency will apply for a federal grant to house children fleeing Central America at the St. Vincent's Villa residential facility on Dulaney Valley Road.
Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz did not take a public position on the proposal but did say he wants details from Catholic Charities. In a statement Friday, he noted that the charity must apply for the federal grant by Aug. 5 and "does not need any approval or assistance from Baltimore County to submit this proposal."
Kamenetz said the nation is facing "a significant humanitarian crisis" that requires a comprehensive solution from the federal government.
McCarthy said his organization sent information to elected officials this week and spoke with the Kamenetz administration Friday.
"We'll provide any information like we've always done to our neighbors and to our elected officials," McCarthy said.
St. Vincent's Villa provides services for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems. It once was home to 110 children, but that number has declined, in part because of increased emphasis on home-based treatment. About 40 children live there now, McCarthy said.
About 57,000 children, mostly from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, have fled to the United States since October. Proposals to care for them have sparked resistance in communities across the country. Sites in Baltimore City and Carroll County were considered for placement of some children but were dropped amid an outcry from some officials and residents.
Eric Rockel, president of the Greater Timonium Community Council, said he hadn't heard reaction from residents who live near St. Vincent's. He said he hopes the children are cared for but believes the nation needs to work to return them to their home countries.
"Certainly a place like St. Vincent's is better than housing them in some sort of mass dormitory that wasn't supposed to be a mass dormitory in the first place," Rockel said. "I think most everyone wants these illegal immigrants to be treated humanely."
Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, a Democrat facing Kach in the November election to represent the area on the County Council, did not respond to a request for comment. Councilman Todd Huff, who also represents part of the area, did not return a message seeking comment.
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