By Tim Ryan

SAN JOSE (KCBS) — As many as 1,500 unaccompanied children who have come across the southern border from Central America could soon be welcomed in Santa Clara County as a proposal for “host families” will go before the county Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.

The proposal is aimed at helping ease the crisis along the southern border where thousands of minors from the crime-riddled countries such as El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras have been arriving in the U.S. unaccompanied.

The Santa Clara plan, brought forward by by supervisors Cindy Chavez and Dave Cortese, calls for a program of host families in foster care licensed homes to facilitate the housing, health care and education of the undocumented children while their legal cases proceed in immigration courts.

“We have a strong legacy of dealing of figuring how to deal with that in Santa Clara County. We’ve dealt with about 100,000 Vietnamese immigrants after the fall of Saigon; we were able to assimilate people,” he said.

Gov. Jerry Brown recently voiced his support for hosting these young people but noted the financial concerns for transportation, schooling and legal aid costs. Cortese, who is also a mayoral candidate, is counting on federal aid.

“We’re a big county and we have a big social services department, but there’s also federal government grants available through Health and Human Services and we’re banking on the fact that federal government is going to make those monies available to help us support this effort,” Cortese said.

Don Barich, a spokesman for various conservative groups such as the Liberty Volunteers, and Tea Party Patriots of Silicon Valley, told the San Jose Mercury News that while there is sympathy for the children, offering them local housing won’t solve underlying issues. He also said that the issue was being used to advance a political agenda.

“There are admittedly no easy or fair solutions. But to ignore the existing population of poor and needy children is just as wrong,” he said.


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