Federal authorities have told Gov. Ned Lamont's administration they do not, for the moment, need sites in Connecticut to house unaccompanied migrant children who have been arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border in record numbers, state officials confirmed Friday.
Last week, Lamont said state officials planned to make a recommendation soon to the federal government on possible sites after Vice President Kamala Harris asked the Democratic governor during a visit to the state last month whether Connecticut could take some of the children at the border.
“The urgency of this ask has slowed, as facilities have been stood up in other states. We have been informed Connecticut’s efforts to pursue additional options for them are not needed at this time,” according to a joint statement released Friday from Lamont Chief of Staff Paul Mounds and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Vannessa Dorantes.
Mounds and Dorantes said they were humbled by the legislators, advocates and agencies across Connecticut that came forward offering to help with the children.
“The true spirit of Connecticut’s humanitarianism was demonstrated repeatedly as we assessed our ability to help,” they said in the statement.
Lamont's administration was considering using a now-shuttered juvenile detention facility in Middletown that drew criticism over its prisonlike conditions in the past. Lamont visited the site with other officials to determine if it was suitable.
Meanwhile, a Connecticut organization is already helping to find housing for some children who cross the border alone and are sent to the state.
For the past five years, the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants has been the only group in the state with a federal contract to help migrant children in federal custody. The institute helps as many as 75 children a year find homes with relatives and other sponsors, and provides legal services to those in a shelter in the state overseen by the federal government, among a variety of other services.
For safety reasons, the institute has not specified where the federally contracted shelter was or how many children are housed there. The organization said it expects to serve more children because of the recent increase in border crossings but had not been contacted by state officials about using the former training school.