Alma in mid-Michigan considering request to house migrants

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In this Friday, Aug. 23, 2019, file photo, immigrants seeking asylum watch a movie in a recreational area at the ICE South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

ALMA, Mich. (AP) — A city in central Michigan is considering a request to turn a former nursing home into temporary housing for young migrants.

Warwick Living Center in Alma would be leased to Bethany Christian Services to provide housing for boys, ages 12 to 17, for up to 40 days or until a sponsor can be found, The Morning Sun reported.

The Alma Planning Commission voted last week to schedule a July 12 public hearing on a rezoning request.

“There were about 20 to 25 in attendance, including the planning commission,” City Manager Matt Schooley said. “There was minimal public comment. We tried to make it clear that this was just the first part of the process.”

Bethany Christian Services would use up to 36 beds for children who have crossed the southern U.S. border without parents or guardians and do not have legal status in this country.

“These children are fleeing violence, trafficking and poverty that we could never imagine,” said Krista Stevens, Bethany Christian executive branch director. “For many it’s a life-or-death decision. They’ve experienced trauma that no human, much less a child, should endure.”

Michigan Masonic Home owns the former nursing home, which closed in January, 50 miles north of Lansing. Any rezoning decision would ultimately be up to the Alma City Commission.

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