Lamont Considers Former Connecticut Juvenile Training School To House Immigrant Children

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Gov. Ned Lamont says when Vice President Kamala Harris visited Connecticut two weeks ago she asked him if he had any space to house unaccompanied immigrant children who crossed the border without permission. 

Lamont suggested the Connecticut Juvenile Training School in Middletown. 

But not everyone believes that’s a good solution. 

“Taking kids out of cages in the southwest and moving them into cages in the northeast is not an immigration policy,” Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim said. 

Florsheim said he doesn’t believe the former Connecticut Juvenile Training School in his city is the right place to house these children.

“We have thousands of kids who are lost and alone on the Rio Grande border and Vice President Harris approached me and said, 'Can Connecticut help out?'" Lamont said Thursday at a press conference. 

Lamont, First Lady Annie Lamont, and Department of Children and Families Commissioner Vanessa Dorantes looked at the shuttered facility in Middletown as a possibility. 

The states facility for incarcerated male youths closed in April 2018 and some don’t believe a facility with fencing, cells and sally ports should be reopened to house unaccompanied immigrant minors.

“There’s no way we can house young people in this facility again. Especially people who have experienced immense trauma,” Christina Quaranta, executive director of the Connecticut Justice Alliance, said.

She said it doesn’t matter what you do to the building and that unless it’s razed it can’t be a place to house children. 

“When the governor and I went there, I wanted to be able to have an opportunity to reimagine that space something differently than it was in the past,” Dorantes said. 

She said she understands the visceral reaction some advocates may have. 

“We can either live in the ghost of the past or really lift up the potential for Connecticut’s future,” she said.

Dorantes said there’s no indication of how many children the federal government may send to Connecticut. 

“There hasn’t been an official ask other than what the governor is referencing in terms of numbers of kids,” Dorantes said. 

She said they have to do better for the kids in foil blankets that she sees in photos at the border. 

“It’s very important for us to have medical care space, mental health care space, much like we see here, outdoor recreation space, indoor recreation space,” Dorantes said. 

She added:“a building doesn’t care for kids, people do.” 

Lamont said he expects to give his recommendations to the Biden administration in the next few days.

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