After shutting down last year, Escondido’s Palomar Continuing Care Center could soon be transformed from an old nursing home into a youth care facility for immigrant children but some nearby residents aren’t happy at all with the plan.
“I think it’s a bad thing for the city and the area, “said local Bill Durney.
“I’m not happy about it,” exclaimed Andrea Garro.
All the concern and the anger stems over a youth care facility that would serve as a 24-hour, 96-bed facility housing immigrant children ages 6 to 17.
But some residents said the facility seems like it would be more of an immigration detention center, and they don’t want that in their backyards.
The facility would be located on the 1800 block of Avenida Del Diablo, right in a residential area. Del Lago Academy sits in the shadows of the proposed site.
Durney and his family walk by the structure daily.
“Our daughter walks our dog through here every night and I’d be very concerned for her safety," he said.
Southwest Key, a contractor with the Department of Health and Human Services is spearheading the project. Approval from the Escondido Planning Commission could go through as early as Tuesday with a vote scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
To ease traffic concerns Southwest Key agreed to restrict intake times.
They're also planning to build a 6-foot fence to ease worries about immigrants escaping.
But at a weekend meeting with residents the company sparked more concern for children at play in the community when residents said Southwest Key talked about another need for the fence.
“The fence isn’t for the kids leaving but for drug trafficking or situations coming into the facility,” said Durney.
According to the Department of Homeland Security 9,000 children crossed the U-S Mexico border last month, fueling Escondido residents to wonder if there are more facilities to come. According to documents, Southwest Key says they have not expanded any of their California facilities.
If the vote for the facility is approved, it can be appealed and go to a vote of the city council.