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Jun 28, 2014 12:40 AM by Nathan O'Neal

Public hearing needed before vacant TUSD schools could shelter migrant children

TUCSON - As migrant children continue to journey unaccompanied into the United States illegally, the federal government is scrambling to find new spaces to house them. One local proposal would include re-purposing closed TUSD schools into temporary shelters.

TUSD School Board President Adelita Grijalva brought the idea up while considering the number of abandoned schools around town.

The proposal to re-open vacant TUSD schools to house migrant children is starting to get some traction within the community.

"I think it's a good idea -- better than the school just sitting there empty," said Tina Lundy. " I think it would be a good thing to do for the children while they're here -- whether they get to stay or not, that's not up to me but I think it's a good idea to use the schools for that."

However, not everyone is behind this idea. News 4 Tucson posed the question in an online poll which found that 64 percent of respondents were not be in favor of the proposal.

Tucson City officials told News 4 Tucson that the current zoning for most of the abandoned schools could allow for "shelter care" - but not before a public hearing is held before the zoning examiner. That process could take more than 30 days.

Political views aside, some residents argue finding a solution to house the migrant children locally is about facing a humanitarian crisis.

"The whole thing of them being held and sent back is a whole different issue... Them being taken care of as kids, that needs to happen," said David Ross.

No specific TUSD schools were identified for possibly housing migrant children.

It will ultimately be up to the feds to make the decision on whether this idea will ever get off the ground.

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