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Vermont looks at housing options for immigrant children - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vermont looks at housing options for immigrant children

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

The White House is asking Vermont if it can house some of the immigrant children illegally entering the United States along the southern border. 

Raul, 16, says he fled the gang-infested streets of El Salvador for a new chance in America.

"Suddenly, we just found my dad dead. Here, if you don't do certain things, your life is going to end anyways, and it's better to try than to just stay and die," said Raul.

Raul is one of thousands of children from Central America who made their way through Mexico to the U.S. border where they're being held in overwhelmed immigration facilities in Texas.

"The violence there is escalating so you have children who are being told they're going to be shot if they don't join gangs. You have young girls who are being raped, sometimes while being pregnant. It is a horrible, horrible situation," said Sen.  Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

The government is struggling with what to do about the problem and Congress is debating the president's plan for nearly $4 billion in emergency funding for new detention centers and deportation proceedings. In the meantime, the Obama administration is asking Vermont to look into the possibility of housing some of those kids.

"We've got vulnerable kids, Vermonters have big hearts and we would like to help if asked. So all we're doing is trying to get back to the White House about what capacity we would have if asked along with other states in the region," said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.

Leahy called on Congress to support the president's emergency spending measure to sort out who's a refugee and who's just trying to sneak across the border.

"Stop trying to play politics with this, stop trying to score points for or against the Obama administration, or for or against each other. Just pass the money we know they urgently need right now," said Leahy.

Some of the money, $300 million, would go to fight the lawlessness and lack of educational opportunities that have Raul planning to flee his home country.

"I don't even go outside in my neighborhood because I'm scared that someone might do something to me," said Raul.

It's unclear what form Vermont's assistance would take and what type of facilities might be made available. The governor says his team is looking into it.

Other Governors have also been asked to help and reaction to that request has been mixed.

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