Jun 14, 2014 1:11 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Local leaders explore ways to help undocumented children brought to Arizona

TUCSON - Local leaders throughout Southern Arizona are working to explore ways to help thousands of undocumented children dropped off at a Border Patrol Station in Nogales, Ariz.

Bus loads of Central American children who crossed into Southern Texas illegally were brought to Arizona for screening and processing. It was the result of overflowing facilities in Texas.

The children range in age from infants to 17 years old. Many could end up in temporary housing, including at a site located near downtown Tucson.

"Tucson is a welcoming community. Tucson is a community that cares about others," Bishop Gerald Kicanas said following a meeting with local leaders and federal representatives.

Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias was also in attendance. He is frustrated with the situation which has thousands of children held in a Border Patrol detention center in Nogales, Ariz.

"I think it shows that ICE and CBP were ultimately unprepared for this kind of thing. Those folks are all about enforcement and this is really a different kind of situation that calls for folks to look at it from a more humanitarian perspective," Elias told News 4 Tucson.

The Obama Administration points to the extreme violence and poverty in Central American countries for the influx of children showing up our door step.

"I think it will become clearer if we can define them as refugees not simply migrants but people who are fleeing for their own safety," Bishop Kicanas said.

An estimated 90,000 undocumented children will enter the United States in 2014. According to federal statistics, that's six times the amount from just two years ago.

Still, the Department of Homeland Security is devoting additional resources to deal with this ‘humanitarian crisis.'

"I also wish to make clear that those apprehended at our border are priorities for removal. they are priorities for enforcement of our immigration laws regardless of age," said DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Federal authorities continue to scramble to process the children - a challenge that shows no signs of letting up.

"The children here and the processing will probably go into the summer... At least up to September," said Nogales Mayor Arturo Garino.

Congressman Raul Grijalva is expected to tour the Border Patrol facility on Monday where many of the children will be rotated through for processing.


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