Boys await medical appointments in a holding area where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children 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)
BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The federal government is looking at a former defense plant site in Bethpage to possibly house thousands of unaccompanied children from Central America.
Congressman Steve Israel opposes the proposal, saying the area is unsafe because the former Grumman plant is located near a Superfund site. Rep. Peter King and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano also oppose the plan.
“I understand that there is a humanitarian crisis with unaccompanied children at the border, but putting them in an industrial warehouse on a site near a Superfund site is not a humanitarian solution,” Israel told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “I have made that argument directly to the White House.”
The location is one of five facilities in New York State that the feds are looking at as temporary housing for the undocumented children. No final decision has been made.
“We know that that site has been plagued with a variety of environmental challenges,” Israel said. “Putting children on this site overnight is just not an appropriate or humanitarian solution.”
Thousands of families and unaccompanied children have been coming to the U.S. in recent months, fleeing violence in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Many believe the children will receive leniency from U.S. authorities.
Israel said more needs to be done to address the situation.
“What we need to do is get a commitment for a more robust approach by the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to create the conditions of stability and security so that no parent has to say to a child it is so dangerous here you may be safer crossing a desert and being put in an industrial warehouse where there’s a Superfund site,” Israel said. “We need more immigration judges, we need more immigration personnel at the border so that we can swiftly resolve these cases before children find their way to detention facilities and to other facilities as far away as New York.”