Md. Governor, Faith Leaders Meet on Immigration

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    NEWSLETTERS

    News 4's Chris Gordon reports on a meeting between Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley and several religious leaders, who discussed ways to help children in U.S. custody after crossing the border illegally. (Published Monday, Jul 21, 2014)

    Gov. Martin Oakley met with Maryland faith leaders to discuss how to help unaccompanied immigrant children who have been coming across the border from Central America.

    The meeting was held Monday in Annapolis with dozens of representatives from religious groups.

    The governor said his first priority is to reunite children with families they may have in the United States. A last resort plan is to place them with foster care families through churches, providing them with clothing and English language skills.

    "It's the first that we see a governor like this calling for finding solutions together," Gustavo Torres with Casa de Maryland said.

    An estimated 50,000 children have crossed the border since October 2013.

    The federal government has suggested using an army reserve center in Westminster, Md. for housing some of the children. Earlier this month, someone vandalized the center, spray painting "NO ILLEAGLES HERE."

    Since the incident, O'Malley has said he's worried the children won't be welcome in the area. He has also voiced concern with the president's plan to send the children back home, saying, "That would be certain death for some." 

    Last week, Catholic Charities offered to house some of the refugees at a Baltimore County campus it owns. William McCarthy with Catholic Charities declined to say how many children his organization is helping house.

    "The issue is so large that no one organization can alone take care of that," McCarthy said.

    Maryland and D.C. together have the largest population from Central America found anywhere in the United States. 

    "As many as half of the parishioners are from Central America so this is an issue very close to our hearts, these are our children," Fr. Jacek Orzechowski with St. Camillus in Silver Spring said. 

    O'Malley will meet with the religious leaders again next week. 

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