The immigration debate took center stage at the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.
County officials are moving forward with plans to house undocumented children who are currently being held in detention centers near the border. The board passed the proposal in a 4-1 vote.
Now, county staff will start working with local organizations to figure out where the children can safely live – and how much it will cost.
While the supervisors voted, dozens of people protested outside Santa Clara City Hall on behalf of thousands of undocumented children who have crossed the borders from Central and South America.
While those kids wait for their day in court, the protesters believe the Bay Area can offer a safe living situation with host families.
“This is about making sure children have a safe place to be while they are being processed through the legal system, which they have every right to have access to,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.
Chavez voted in support of the proposal.
“It’s a green light allowing the county to begin working with local organizations like the Bill Wilson Center in San Jose to bring these kids here,” Chavez said.
The center’s Sparky Harlan said there is a huge need for foster parents.
“As people open their hearts up for these kids and want to help with host homes, they’ll also help our other kids,” Harlan said.
But not everyone agrees.
Dozens showed up to the board meeting to speak out against the proposal.
“This is a slap in the face to those who came to our country legally,” said Susan Mister, an opponent of the immigration proposal.
Mister believes opening the borders to undocumented children will drain tax payer dollars.
“It’s also financial aid that I understand the feds will provide for legal services,” she said. “This is unfair to our tax payers and constituents.”
No price tag or specific plans were discussed on Tuesday. That information is expected in about a month, when the supervisors will have another opportunity to vote.