DENVER (CBS4) – Denver continues to lay the groundwork for the possible arrival of children who are in the country illegally.

Children from Central America have been pouring across the border, setting off a fresh debate on immigration reform.

Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez talks with CBS4's Valerie Castro (credit: CBS)

Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez talks with CBS4’s Valerie Castro (credit: CBS)

If a 3-year federal grant is approved, the city says the children would be housed at the Family Crisis Center for about a month at a time. Right now the facility is underutilized but is equipped with classrooms, beds and a dining hall.

It’s been called a humanitarian crisis — the children from Central America all making their way across the border in hopes of escaping violence, and in some cases reuniting with family already living in the United States.

“There are children coming to our country, crossing deserts, being threatened for their lives just to be able to live,” Denver City Councilman Paul Lopez said.

The City of Denver has applied for a federal grant to house and help up to 60 unaccompanied children between the ages of 10 and 17 at the Family Crisis Center on Federal Boulevard.

“It’s about kids who need help and support.” Denver Human Services Executive Director Penny May said. “They would be housed here on an average of 30 to 35 days, and that the services required to be provided include education, medical, legal, family reunification, counseling.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Lopez supports the grant application, despite possible opposition.

“If we are on the street and a child is in danger, and a child runs to you, do we push that child away? Do we say, ‘Okay, where are you from?’ ” Lopez said.

The city has existing federal grants to work with refugee families, but this is just another way to help.

“These are children who are innocent, who are coming to our country because this is their only hope. They’re children. They’re children,” Lopez said.

The Department of Human Services expects to hear whether or not the grant is awarded by early October.

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