Facility for migrant children could be coming to Tampa Bay area

A permanent facility for undocumented migrant children could be coming to the Tampa Bay Area. The federal government is now looking to central Florida as a possible location for the shelter that would be home to 500 undocumented migrant children.

The government is now searching for a 100,000-square-foot space to house the shelter right in the heart of Florida. Their map includes boundaries that stretch from Orlando to portions of Polk, Pasco and Hernando Counties.

"If this is going to be going to become a reality, demand access, demand transparency, demand a public hearing on these types of decisions," said State Rep. Anna Eskamani as she expressed her concerns over the idea.

Documents show the shelter would be fitted with bedrooms, classrooms and even space for medical and casework needs. Five soccer fields and a playground would complete the outside area.

Shelter staff would also provide 24/7 care to the children, according to the documents. 

Some local leaders seem to be on board. In a statement to FOX 13, State Rep. Melony Bell, who represents parts of Polk County, said: 

"As a State Representative, I would welcome a facility to be built in my district because it is our humanitarian responsibility to take care of the unaccompanied immigrant children. Also, my district is heavily populated with migrant workers due to our large agriculture community.  It would have a positive impact and would create over 500 permanent jobs, not counting the workforce it would take to build the facility."

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However, other leaders, like Rep. Eskamani, have their concerns. 

"This absolutely is a burden to our region, because this is going to be a facility that utilizes public water, that utilizes our security, that utilizes our infrastructure when it comes to transportation," said Eskamani. "I highly doubt that they're going to be covering the cost of any of that."

In addition to economic repercussions, Eskamani expressed concerns over shelter conditions and fear that lawmakers wouldn't be allowed inside the facility to keep a watchful eye on what was happening inside the walls.

If the plan goes through, the government hopes to have the shelter up and operating by November of 2020.