DAVENPORT, Iowa - Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba hopes the Quad Cities will play a role in helping care for immigrant children held on the U.S.-Mexico border.
Since October, more than 52,000 unaccompanied young people have been detained on the southern U.S. border. Many of them are fleeing violence in Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
President Barack Obama has called the recent surge a humanitarian crisis.
“They’ve got them basically in confinement along the Texas border and in other cities, and it’s probably overwhelming the system, so [the federal government] is looking for help. I think Davenport and the people of Davenport will help,” said Gluba.
Monday, Gluba told News 8 that he reached out to the White House, offering the Quad Cities’ help to house and care for some of those children. He said the Department of Health and Human Services then sent him information about creating a temporary placement facility in the area.
“We are a welcoming country, and I said, ‘Something’s got to be done about it. Let’s start the process,’” said Gluba.
Gluba is now pulling together a team of representatives from area hospitals, schools, charities and churches. Monday, the group met for the first time at City Hall to discuss what they could do.
“First of all, it’s an attitude of welcome — that these are special people, special children; they’ve gone through traumatic experiences, and they need special care, and we need to be able to provide that,” said Nora Dvorack, the former director of the Refugee Resettlement Program for the Diocese of Davenport.
Right now, there are still many questions about where the immigrants would stay, how many the Quad Cities could handle, and who would supervise them.
Still, local activists remain positive.
“Oh, we can do lots. We’ve done it in the past, we can do it again,” said Dvorack.
Members of the group planned to meet Wednesday morning to compile a list of questions for the Department of Health and Human Services before moving forward.