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DeSantis not budging on a move that will force hundreds of migrant kids out of shelters – Tampa, Florida

Tampa, Florida 2021-12-06 21:34:52 –

At a recent roundtable in Tampa on First Responders and Mental Health, we asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis about immigrant children and his recent orders aimed at keeping them away from Florida. rice field.

“I want our resources to focus on the needs of children in Florida and the needs we have in our community,” DeSantis said. “There are people from other countries, they should not be allowed to enter that country.”

DeSantis responded by investigative journalist Katie LaGrone renewing her annual license to a shelter where the Florida Children’s Family Authority (DCF) cares for unaccompanied children who are temporarily cared for by the government across borders. It takes place a few weeks after the exclusive discovery that it has stopped. I met my family again here.

The shelter is 100% funded as part of the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Refugee Resettlement Administration program. Throughout Florida, there are more than 12 of these shelters with more than 700 beds available to unaccompanied children as part of a federal program that has existed here for decades.

LaGrone learned that an unknown number of children in Florida also live with foster parents as part of the program and have not been updated. Neither the federal government nor the DCF answer questions about the non-renewal of these licenses and their impact on children and these shelters.

Last month, Sarasota’s Dream Center had to take care of nearly 60 unaccompanied immigrant children because the state would not renew its annual license before it expired. The DCF did not explain the reason to the center leader. To date, the center is still receiving silent treatment from the DCF.

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Sam Sipes leads Tampa’s Lutheran Service, which operates a dream center where about 100 employees are appearing to take care of children who are not yet there. Sipes told La Grone a few weeks ago how to force children to move to a federal-funded or out-of-state shelter in Florida where their licenses haven’t expired yet.

“This place was for many of those kids, and most of them were the first places they felt safe. Oh yeah, that’s sad,” Sypes told Lagrone. “These 50 or more children were traumatized again because they had to move in a hurry because they couldn’t clarify the status of our license.”

Lutheran Services opened the Dream Center Shelter in 2019 at the request of the Trump administration in response to the ongoing border crisis. The Dream Center provides a safe place for asylum-seeking children in the United States, as well as other federal-funded shelters that provide care for unaccompanied children. You will arrive at these shelters.

The lack of a response from the DCF forced Lutheran Services to bring the DCF to court for what Sipes described as something it had never dealt with before. In a complaint filed in the Hillsborough County Court, Lutheran Services accused DCF of not issuing a license renewal by the date the first license was renewed. An emergency hearing is scheduled for this Friday.

The sudden non-renewal occurs after DeSantis signed an executive order on immigration restrictions in September in response to what DeSantis called the “Biden’s border crisis.” This directs all state agencies in Florida to stop supporting federal programs to transport to states that are “aliens arrested at the Southwestern border” that do not have legal status here. ..

What’s happening in Florida seems to be similar to what happened in Texas in the summer. Texas Governor Greg Abbott took similar steps when he issued a disaster declaration instructing state agencies to refuse or discontinue licenses for shelters to care for immigrant children. However, before the Declaration came into force, the Texas Health and Welfare Committee issued an urgent rule permitting shelters to continue operating without a state license. In Florida, such a rule does not currently exist.

Children entering the United States without this program are usually sent by their parents or other family members in search of a better free life in the United States. Many of these children deal with brutal factors and incredible risks. Border.

At the same roundtable where La Grone asked the governor for an answer, DCF secretary Shevaun Harris also refused to answer questions about the provider’s order to renew the license and her agency’s explicit silent treatment. .. Other Florida shelters planning to renew their licenses in the state are also concerned that if the DCF does not renew their licenses, they will have to relocate their children.

This situation has led members such as Florida House of Representatives Anna Escamani (D-Orlando) and US House of Representatives Lois Frankel (D-Palm Beach County) to oppose what DeSantis is doing. rice field.

“Children should not be political pawns,” Eskamani said. “Suddenly, the fact that these nonprofits are doing contractual work is questioned. It’s clearly that the governor is playing politics, and that’s not a good policy. These kids And it’s not safe for these organizations that have to scramble to find a safe place for these kids to go. “

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), who spoke about the situation in Texas, has also called on DeSantis to target children and reverse the order.

“Our governor has children. Knowing that they can’t speak for themselves, I can’t imagine how this decision would be made,” said Lisa Gwin, president of the AAP Florida Chapter.

For years, Gwin has worked with Miami’s Mobile Clinic to provide care for unaccompanied children across borders as part of this program.

“They are innocent. They are excited to reunite with their families, go to school and live in a safe environment. Not everyone deserves it,” Gwin asked.

This order includes an exception if the DCF determines under Florida law that “the resettlement of unaccompanied children from outside the state constitutes evidence of need.”

However, neither the Governor’s Office nor the DCF has yet clarified what that really means. A spokesman for the governor’s office said in an email a few weeks ago that it was “still established by the DCF.”

Still, the governor has not retreated.

“We want to focus these resources on children in Florida and children in the United States,” he said. “Because Biden is airlifting children from the southern border, we don’t want to be where those children are behind the line.”

But when reporter Katie Laglone told him that the shelter was funded by the federal government, DeSantis replied, “I answered your question, thank you.”



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