Church's plan to house immigrant children horrifies locals
A Long Island pastor is canceling his plan to house illegal immigrant children inside his church after nearly unanimous opposition from community members.
Rev. Dennis Walker of Holy Cross Lutheran Church confirmed Monday that he has rescinded his proposal to take the children in, Fox News reports.
The Associated Press reported that over 57,000 children entered the United States illegally and without an adult between October 2013 and June 2014.
Lutheran Social Services of New York offered Rev. Walker the opportunity to take in 40 of these children, ages four to 17, until they could be reunited with their families or deported.
The church would receive $8,000 to $10,000 a month for three years for housing the children, and federal funds would pay for the building to be renovated. In addition to the additional income, Walker said taking the children in would be the "Christian thing" to do.
Residents of the Commack community were strongly against the proposal, however.
"I have two little kids. Who's to say my house is going to be safe?" one woman asked.
"It's basically going to be a hotel right next to my house," another concerned resident said.
Rev. Walker expressed hope that the "people will reconsider in a more rational light," and insisted that the endeavor would have "minimal impact on the community with substantial benefits."
A meeting with community members scheduled for last week was cancelled due to an emotional protest.
By Monday, the plan to house the children was shelved completely. The church missed the deadline to apply for the federal programme.
The Administration for Children and Families hopes to find shelter for up to 60,000 illegal immigrant youth by the end of the fiscal year, September 30. About 25,000 children were placed last year.