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Mon July 7, 2014
Protests Monday night against migrant children coming to Michigan
UPDATE 10:49 PM
Some 75 protestors and several police officers filled the front lawn of Vassar's city hall Monday evening.
Even though officials say these kids would stay in the juvenile camp for housing and school while they're going through the asylum, or more likely, the deportation process, lots of people expressed concern about what it would mean for the town.
"More crime," said Josh Barnes, of Vassar, when asked why he was worried enough to come out and protest.
"And they'll bring their families, and they're going to get on [public] support, and it's just going to keep compounding and getting worse.
"We have enough people here that need help," said his wife, Candi. "We don't need more."
About a dozen people showed up with signs in support of temporarily relocating some of the immigrant children to Vassar.
The two sides had a handful of verbal skirmishes, but police stepped in to keep things generally calm.
Immigration officials are scrambling to find shelter for the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the Mexican border.
Some of those kids may find their way to Michigan.
Which is why protestors say they'll turn out tonight in the small, mid-Michigan town of Vassar.
That's where a juvenile rehab center is in talks to give as many as 120 Central American children short-term housing while they're processed through immigration.
The center's called Wolverine Human Services, and Derrick McCree is their Senior Vice President.
"We projected and predicted that we would get resistance," he says. "But our goal is to help these children in need to move forward to whatever it may be: to return them to their country of origin, to become a US citizen, whatever's decided."
While many unaccompanied Central American children may try to get asylum or other forms of protection in the United States (such as refugee status), they'd have to meet a strict legal threshold in order to legally stay.
Asylum is typically offered to people fleeing persecution by their government.
In the US, courts often decide it's not enough to simply come from a place where a teenager may have faced violent gangs, or where a young girl was being sexually assaulted by politically-protected community members - the kind of realities that many of the Central American children crossing the border have experienced.
Meanwhile, McCree says they met with Vassar's city leaders last week to talk about the possible relocation.
If the children do come to Michigan, the government may also try to reunite them with any family members that may be in the country.
Politics & Government
Politics & Government