HISD school considered as shelter for undocumented children

General Services Administration to tour Terrell Middle School

By Robert Arnold - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Congressional sources told Local 2 Investigates an empty school on Houston's north east side is being considered as a possible temporary shelter for unaccompanied Central American children. Local 2 also learned officials from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the General Services Administration will tour Terrell Middle School Tuesday.

"I think it would be great," said Damon Moore, who lives near the school on East Crosstimbers at Bonita. "As a citizen, we shouldn't just throw children out into the street."

Congressional sources told Local 2 Investigates that the school was being considered as a temporary shelter through an email to congressional staffers from officials at Health and Human Services.

A copy of the email was given to Local 2 and reads, "The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the General Services Administration will conduct an initial assessment of the site."

Federal officials haven't said how many children could be housed at Terrell, or for how long.

Terrell has a large campus and according to Houston Independent School District's website, the school closed in 2001 but has been used as an alternative school and headquarters for the Junior ROTC program. A "for sale" sign is now posted in front of the school.

"If it was up to me to vote I would be against it," said resident Alvin Moore. "There's been so many complaints about them coming here, may have diseases and things like this."

HISD officials confirmed the Tuesday tour, but did not have specific details. HISD officials said this is only an initial visit and no final decisions have been made as to whether the campus will be utilized as a temporary shelter.

"It is very early in the game," said HISD Press Secretary Sheleah Reed.

Reed said officials across the district have been discussing ways to help the Central American children sent to the U.S. alone and who federal officials said were caught crossing the border illegally. Reed said beyond temporary shelters, HISD officials have also been exploring ways to meet the educational needs of these children while they are in the U.S.

The federal government continues to scramble to find shelters to house the more than 52,000 unaccompanied Central American children who entered the U.S. in the last fiscal year.

"If it was your child, what would you want? You would want somebody to help you," said Damon Moore.

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