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Alzheimer’s facility converted to house migrant kids in west El Paso

EL PASO, Texas -- A new facility designed to house migrant children is reportedly preparing to open just blocks away from the Coronado Country Club, in what is regarded as one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city.

The new migrant facility will be situated where the 'SunRidge at Desert Springs' Alzheimer's care center once stood. The Alzheimer's facility closed down recently, and has seen demolition work. ABC-7's news gathering partners 'The El Paso Inc.' confirmed the plans that are in place for the facility.

"Getting confirmation from government sources was impossible, there was nobody from Health and Human Services, Immigration, Congresswoman Escobar. I called everybody I could think of and nobody knew anything about it," El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder said.

ABC-7 learned of this facility on Thursday, and much like Crowder describes, ABC-7 ran into the same roadblocks as no officials were willing to talk about this facility.

"I talked to the workers out there, the foreman - he just mentioned 'BCFS'. It’s an American run nonprofit," Crowder said. "As is turned out they were the ones who were running this."

Crowder called BCFS to inquire about this facility, he received a call back from local entrepreneur David Bingham who purchased the building.

"His operation already has another home in El Paso down in the Valley, as far as the neighbors were concerned he said the neighbors really barely know the migrants are there," Crowder said.

When ABC-7 returned to the site on Friday, a worker would not comment on the facility. Instead, gave our crews a card reading the following:

"For the safety and privacy of the children being served, media requests and other public inquiries regarding this operation should be submitted to: U.S. department of Health and Human Services- Administration for Children & Families."

ABC-7 reached out to Congresswoman Veronica Escobar on Thursday shortly after receiving a tip about this establishment. Escobar's office returned ABC-7's request for comment on Friday with the following statement:

“Migrant children fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution are one of the most vulnerable populations in our immigration system, especially when they are not accompanied by an adult family member,” said Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16). “This week I learned that BCFS System and the Office of Refugee Resettlement will establish a new shelter for unaccompanied children in El Paso. I am committed to ensuring that they are cared for by licensed staff in a compassionate way and what’s especially important is that they are released as quickly and safely as possible to their intended sponsors, spending as little time in U.S. custody as possible.”

ABC-7 spoke to neighbors in the area to get their take on this new facility, and the responses were mixed. One neighbor who asked to not be identified said:

"I think it's great, these kids need a place to go, and it'll be a better facility than some other's we've seen in the area."

Another neighbor who spoke with ABC-7 was not sold on the idea.

"I'm shocked, I didn't even know it was sold or closed but more than that I think it is completely inappropriate, it is just the wrong place, its not a good thing," said Allyn Echaniz.

There is no immediate word when this facility will open. One thing residents seemed to agree on is the feeling that they were left in the dark. Residents told ABC-7 no one let them know what was going to be happening in their neighborhood.

Article Topic Follows: On the Border

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JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.


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