Mayor Bernero Ready If Asked To Support Immigrant Children

LANSING, MI (WLNS) – The debate on where to house the thousands of unaccompanied children is just part of the entire immigration issue.

6 News Nick Perreault talked to an immigration attorney who tells us “this” issue is more than politicians or local governments can handle.

“By the end of September there should be 90,000 children from Central American countries that are unaccompanied in this country,” said Mark Anderson, East Lansing immigration attorney.

Anderson says that’s more than double the current number in mid-Michigan. The problem is as that number grows the more difficult it becomes, politics aside to figure out what to do with the thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America.

“There’s only a certain number of judges, a certain number of courts that can hear these cases, they’ll be a lack of attorneys that will be available that understand this area of the law that could represent these children.”

As the law is written now Anderson says those who are here have to go through a hearing before they are  deported.

“Right now it’s running 563 days before they’ll have a hearing.”

That’s almost two years before the courts can decide their status as refugees.

“There’s only two ways that they could stay one would be either they were persecuted or would be persecuted if they went back to their country or that they were somehow abandoned by their parents and no other place for them to go.”

If they fail to meet refugee status, they’d then be deported.

But until their hearing those thousands of unaccompanied children that pass border patrol are protected by the U.S. government.

“I don’t think anybody could have foreseen this type of number of children coming over that need legal services and the government has to provide services as well.”

Unless the law changes they’ll remain here until those court dates.

Anderson adds the other issue is funding. Though most would come through FEMA and health and human services, cities and churches might be expected to chip in and help out if asked to host these unaccompanied children.

That’s an idea Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero says he embraces with open arms. “We have not been asked by FEMA or the administration, but certainly if that comes, we are prepared, we certainly hope it would come with funds, we encourage people to be involved in their community to be giving charitable for this cause,” said Mayor Bernero.

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