NOGALES, AZ - JUNE 18: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer helps out a few boys who are trying to make phone calls as they are joined by hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children that are being processed and held at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Nogales Placement Center on June 18, 2014, in Nogales, Arizona. Brownsville, Texas, and Nogales, have been central to processing the more than 47,000 unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally since Oct. 1. (Photo by Ross D. Franklin-Pool/Getty Images)2014 Getty Images
The resistance of many local communities across the United States to becoming destinations – even temporary ones – for unaccompanied minors who have been swarming the southern border has dominated headlines.
But at the same time, in a more quiet fashion, many other communities and local governments are extending a welcome to the children, describing it as a moral imperative to lend a hand.
The board of supervisors in Santa Clara County in California is weighing the options for helping children who are here alone.
Rep. Zoe Lofgren, a Democrat, went before the board recently to say she had been horrified after visiting a facility near the border where some of the children were staying. She said the county should find ways to provide humane shelter for the kids while they wait for their court dates, according to the San Jose Mercury.
In Michigan, the president of Marygrove College says he would offer scholarships to older children and provide food and shelter for other youths at the Catholic school if the federal government agrees to treat as refugees the thousands of children traveling alone from Central America and crossing the border into the U.S.
His comments come amid protests over plans by Grosse Pointe Park-based Wolverine Human Services to enter into a contract allowing its facility in Vassar to house children who fled violence in Central America.
Cities like Murietta, California have dominated headlines recently after swarms of angry protesters have rallied against using government funds to pay for the lodging, health and educational costs of housing the children. On Tuesday, protesters carrying "Return to Sender" and "Go home non-Yankees" signs faced off with immigrant rights activists in the Arizona town of Oracle.
At the same time though, other local communities say they would welcome the children coming their way.
Massachusetts Gov. Daniel Patrick says he’s weighing a request from President Barack Obama’s administration about whether his state can shelter some of the unaccompanied children.
The governor said if Massachusetts agrees to shelter the children, they would be held in secure facilities and not released into neighborhoods.
Patrick called the situation at the southern border a ‘‘humanitarian crisis’’ and said that while there are limits to the assistance that the state can provide, Massachusetts should do what it can.
‘‘We need to understand the scope of what it is that we are being asked to do, but I can tell you personally that I don’t think as a commonwealth that we can turn away and turn our backs to children who are coming from desperate situations,’’ Patrick told reporters.
In Syracuse, N.Y., Mayor Stephanie Miner wrote a letter to the president saying the city and its leaders welcome the chance to provide shelter to the children. She requested a partnership between the federal government and Syracuse to expedite the administration's review of a potential shelter at a former convent that could house between 100 and 200 children.
She noted that the central New York city of 144,000 has a rich immigrant tradition and has welcomed people from South Sudan and elsewhere.
"It's something that we have done in the past and we're very proud of and we want to continue to do," Miner told The Associated Press. "But also, these are children, and it's hard to watch this and think that saying anything other than, 'Let's give them shelter in this humanitarian storm,' it seems to us to be the appropriate way to respond to it."
Miner said she has had positive conversations with community leaders, including the local bishop, the Syracuse University chancellor and the president of Le Moyne College.
Unaccompanied children from Central America have been arriving at the border by the thousands, with 90,000 expected by the end of the fiscal year Sept. 30. They flee violence, but also are drawn by rumors that once here, they can stay.
President Barack Obama has requested $3.7 billion in emergency spending request to help address the situation at the border. Republicans have been pushing to significantly pare down that request.
There is precedent for Massachusetts offering temporary shelter in crisis situations. In 2005, 235 Hurricane Katrina evacuees were housed at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod until they could be placed in permanent housing.
The head of an Iowa Latino advocacy group is pushing for his fellow Iowans to welcome unaccompanied children.
"Every state should embrace these children," said Joe Enriquez Henry of Des Moines, state director of the League of United Latin American Citizens, according to the Des Moines Register. "We feel a responsibility to provide a safe place for these refugees. We would love to have them come to Des Moines. We believe in a caring community."
His group was one of several taking a stand against Gov. Terry Branstad's refusal to receive the kids in Iowa. Branstad said that while he feels sorry for the kids, he does not want to do anything that would encourage more parents in Central America to send their children on the dangerous journey to the United States.
Clara County Executive Jeff Smith vowed to respond to Lofgren’s request next month with what the options are to helping children who arrive in their area. Foster homes, he said, would be an option.
"We are seeing if there is a reasonable way that we can help alleviate this problem," he said, noting that "at this point, there are a lot of questions about what kind of capacity we have to do this, and how do we go about paying for it."
"We're not saying they should be admitted or not admitted, we're not trying to make a decision about immigration policy. All we're saying is it's really not humane to house them in a warehouse."
Plenty of smaller, private efforts are also being carried out around the country. Churches in California, for instance, are lending assistance by collecting donations, and having pastors and congregants open their homes to families who have been part of the influx from Central American and have been release pending a court appearance on their immigration case.
In Texas, a businessman is holding a toy drive for children held in shelters in the state.
Dallas County is trying to identify locations for providing shelter to about 2,000 children.
"Regardless of what you think about immigration, regardless of what you think about politics, these are children," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told local reporters. "And in Texas, we take care of children."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.