WATKINS, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado facility located miles from anywhere is being considered to house some of the immigrant children who have been flooding into the United States from Central America.

CBS4 Investigator Rick Sallinger visited the facility on Monday and talked with Mayor Michael Hancock about Denver’s contingency plans if some of the children arrive in the city.

Sallinger learned a program based in Arapahoe County called “Rite of Passage” has been in discussions with the Office of Refugee Resettlement of the federal government over the possibility of bringing dozens of unaccompanied minors now huddled at the U.S. and Mexico border to Colorado.

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Rite of Passage runs programs under contract at Ridge View Youth Services Center in Watkins as part of the state of Colorado. It has a school, library, gymnasium, and now only holds 185 troubled youths with a capacity of 500 beds.

FROM CBSNEWS.COM: Fear Of Gangs, Rampant Violence Send Central American Kids North

Last week lawyers gathered at the Colorado Bar Association for training on how to handle the immigration court cases of unaccompanied children.

“I feel very strongly that we must respond to this situation and help these children who are in need,” immigration attorney Lisa York said.

Many of those who escaped Central American countries did so because of fear of violence, including gang warfare.

The Ridge View Youth Services Center in Watkins (credit: CBS)

The Ridge View Youth Services Center in Watkins (credit: CBS)

The City of Denver Department of Human Services is considering applying for a federal grant to help unaccompanied immigrant minors. Hancock told Sallinger it’s only to be fiscally prepared if the federal government wants to place children in Denver.

“We don’t want chaos, we don’t want any other negatives that people talk about,” Hancock said. “The reality is that this is a city that has always stepped up and proven we care about kids.”

He said they would be sent to Colorado because they have relatives in the area and could eventually be placed with them.

The federal government’s Office of Refugee Resettlement said only a few facilities will be selected. They will be announced when their evaluation is complete.

LINK: Rite of Passage


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