NEWTON, Kan. (AP) — A nonprofit faith-based agency in Newton said it will apply for a federal grant that could temporarily bring unaccompanied immigrant children to the town.
EmberHope officials said they decided to pursue the grant despite opposition from many in the town about 30 miles north of Wichita, The Wichita Eagle reported.
Shelley Duncan, the organization’s president and CEO, said she respects the opinions of those opposed to bringing children who have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border to Newton. But she said EmberHope wants to honor the teachings of Jesus Christ and its mission to help children.
The federal grant could pay to house up to 34 children at a time at EmberHope’s Newton facility.
If the grant is approved and the children come, Duncan said about 50 new jobs could be gained in the area, as the organization hires clinical workers, translators and other employees.
Duncan asked for a letter of support for the grant last Friday from Newton’s city commission. The request was denied.
Newton mayor Leroy Koehn said the city was firm about not wanting the children here. He said Newton officials have no other options except of a lawsuit to stop the children from coming, and he said they don’t plan to sue.
Koehn said if children do come, “our job is just to be a compassionate community, try and care for children in need.”
“This is a business opportunity for EmberHope,” he said. “If the children come, and if they handle these children in an effective way, if they deal with any diseases they might bring along, I can see where it would be a win-win for everybody.”
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