Last month, news broke that the federal government had Central Florida on its list of possible sites to house unaccompanied migrant minors. Now, according to State Sen. Linda Stewart (D-Orlando), there's a specific address in mind, and it's in Orlando.
U.S. Health and Human Services is interested in leasing the property at 1850 W. Landstreet Road, according to according to a letter Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings sent to a group of state representatives.
The property is currently a Travelodge which, when contacted, said they have no intention of closing.
The General Services Administration reached out to Orange County regarding the property, according to Demings' letter. If the shelter is established there, it would have to be classified as a residential care facility, Demings wrote. That would involve obtaining a special use permit with a public hearing before the Board of Zoning Adjustment and the Orange County Board of Commissioners.
The letter, sent off Sunday, echoed an earlier letter the senator sent on Aug. 2 calling on DeSantis to use his political influence to stop any proposed detention sites from coming to Central Florida.
In her most recent letter, Stewart says the proposed detention times have changed from 30 days to indefinite, a modification the senator wrote could possibly be illegal. Her letter also alleges Health and Human Services has contacted Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings "on what process needs to be undertaken to rezone and acquire this property."
"We embrace the family values that we strive to promote daily to keep it family friendly. We are the City Beautiful: Built on inclusiveness and family. The idea of separating children from their parents breaks the heart ofCentral Florida," Stewart wrote. "With that, I leave you with my personal feeling; separation of children from their parents for any amount of time is inhumane and I hope you can discuss this situation with Washington, DC."
Under the proposal, the Office of Refugee Resettlement would lease the property, build it up to state code, and establish a permanent site to reduce the need for temporary shelters when the others reach capacity. It would open its doors in spring 2020.
We have reached out to Health and Human Services and Mayor Demings for comment.
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