by Dr. Susan Berry 15 Jul 2014

The administration of Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy (D-WFP) has denied a request from federal officials to temporarily house up to 2,000 illegal immigrant children from Central America at a residence in his state for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Citing concerns about the condition of the aging Southbury Training School, the difficulties associated with caring for over 300 developmentally disabled clients, and legal and procedural hurdles, Connecticut’s state Office of Policy and Management (OPM) wrote to the U.S. General Services Administration’s (GSA) New England regional offices on Monday, indicating that Connecticut could not assist them.

According to Keith Phaneuf at CT Mirror, federal officials initially contacted the administration of Malloy, who is seeking a second term as governor this year, on July 3 regarding the possibility of a short-term lease to house, feed, and provide medical care to 1,000 to 2,000 of the unaccompanied illegal children who entered the U.S. through Mexico.

The GSA reportedly asked for approximately 90,000 square feet at Southbury for up to 2,000 children who would reside for six months to a year.

Describing the need for housing for the illegal immigrant children as “urgent,” Michael Strobel, senior realty specialist for the GSA’s New England region, contacted Connecticut officials. The federal government would cover all living, medical, and maintenance expenses associated with moving the illegal immigrant children.

The Mirror reports Patrick M. O’Brien, assistant director of Connecticut OPM’s Bureau of Assets Management, sent the following email to the federal official:

The vacant property that the state of Connecticut has is too small to accommodate your needs (which clearly must be at least several hundred thousand square feet of building space alone) and is typically in a state of disrepair to the point where a certificate of occupancy would be difficult to obtain. Indeed, many existing structures are beyond salvage and require environmental remediation and demolition…

Southbury Training School is home to adults in State care with developmental disabilities. Their families and the developmentally disabled community keep a watchful eye on the residents and the property itself. Any new and significant activity at Southbury would be intensively scrutinized by a multitude of interest groups and organizations, and would face time-consuming challenges

As reported by the Mirror, O’Brien added that Connecticut law requires a specific procedure for offering “surplus” property it no longer needs, including that it first be made available to other state agencies, then to Connecticut municipalities. A period of public comment is also required prior to any new usage of such properties, and final sales must be approved by the State Properties Review Board, two state legislative committees, and the Connecticut attorney general’s office.

“This process often takes a minimum of 18-24 months to complete and, based upon the urgency expressed in your email, I can’t believe a 24 month time frame would meet your needs,” O’Brien wrote.

Both of Connecticut’s U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal (D) and Chris Murphy (D), called this month for passage of an immigration reform bill that would expedite due process requirements for the illegal immigrant children.