FEMA, Catholic Charities team up to house immigrant children in Milwaukee

CREATED Jul 11, 2014 - UPDATED: Jul 11, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Tens of thousands of children have arrived in the U.S., causing a huge border crisis. Now, some of those children could be brought to Wisconsin.

Three places are being looked at as possible temporary homes. Two former schools - one in the city of Milwaukee and one in Milwaukee County.  There is an under-utilized office building elsewhere in the state that's being considered.

If you've seen the pictures, you know that through their faces, you've felt their heart ache.
 
"You know, they're coming from three countries that have extremely high levels of homicide because of organized crime," said Christine Neumann-Ortiz with Milwaukee's Voces de la Frontera.  She says in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, it's becoming a question of dying in their native country or dying abroad. If Catholic Charities has something to say about it, they'll live right here.
 
"We see this as an extension of our mission which is to welcome the stranger and to care for the orphan," said Father David Bergner with Milwaukee's Catholic Charities.
 
Father Bergner was contacted because of Milwaukee's proximity to Chicago's immigration courtroom.
 
"It's our belief that these kids have a right to an asylum hearing because of how the laws are written," said Father Bergner.
 
Father Bergner went looking for places big enough to house up to 300 children.
 
"The search was remarkably easy. The people I talked to were very open to doing this. 
FEMA would provide some of the basics needed to house people with dignity." said Father Bergner.
 
And while Milwaukee prepares for their arrival, it's not a done deal. That will depend on how much money Congress allocates.
 
"It's like two shoes and one shoe has fallen and we're waiting for the other shoe to fall.  And as I see it, a lot is dependent on how much money Congress makes available," said Father Bergner.
 
Emotions on immigration are mixed on Capitol Hill. Some lawmakers demand the kids be sent home. Others say they should be allowed in the U.S.
 
There is a national hotline to call if you think you may be related to one of these children. It's 1-800-203-7001.