BU dean contacts churches about housing children of illegal immigrants

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) The Dean of Baylor University’s Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, Jon Singletary, has reached out to several area churches about the possibility of housing the children of illegal immigrants who have been separated from their parents.

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo/file)

Since Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced in April that the administration was implementing a “zero tolerance” policy under a federal law that prohibits both attempted illegal entry and illegal entry into the United States by an alien, more than 2,300 children have been separated from their parents, who are jailed pending criminal prosecutions.

"As global citizens here in Waco, we have to not just be attuned to what's happening in our own community, but we have to take a look around the state, what's happening at the border and be prepared to offer a compassionate response," Singletary said Tuesday.

Singletary has reached out to several churches that may have the facilities and staff to handle as many as 200 children who have crossed the border illegally with their families.

He declined to identify the churches.

"It all depends if the right church, with the right facilities chooses to open its doors and if through a third party, can work out a government contract," Singletary said.

"We have been talking to churches that have Hispanic leadership, that have ministries to Hispanic families that are not just your typical Anglo church."

"We want to be prepared for a couple of hundred. Hopefully it won't come to that, but that's what we need to be prepared for."

Singletary say's it's the least the faith community in Waco can do for those who cannot help themselves.

Singletary was contacted by a third party who works out contracts with the government for such housing centers,

"It's a real gift to know we live in a community that is this hospitable, that could imagine if such a need does arise that we would consider housing children short term while family's decisions are being made."

Some church leaders have already spoken out against the policy of taking children from their families.

"Even this morning, the White House press secretary made a comment about the fact that so many Christian leaders are crying out against the separation of children from their families and she said ‘Well if churches are so upset and vocal, then why aren't you opening your doors?’”

“Well this is just our opportunity to say, we are,” Singletary said.

Under the Bush and Obama administrations, parents who entered the country illegally with their children were subjected to civil rather than criminal proceedings, which meant the families could remain together, but the president wants to prosecute all adults who enter or attempt to enter the U.S. illegally.