Senator Nelson weighs on on undocumented border kids shelter in - WFLA News Channel 8

Senator Nelson weighs on on undocumented border kids shelter in Pasco County

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Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, which operates the shelter under a federal contract, insists that none of the kids have criminal backgrounds or any contagious diseases. Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, which operates the shelter under a federal contract, insists that none of the kids have criminal backgrounds or any contagious diseases.
Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, which operates the shelter under a federal contract, insists that none of the kids have criminal backgrounds or any contagious diseases. Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, which operates the shelter under a federal contract, insists that none of the kids have criminal backgrounds or any contagious diseases.
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  • Undocumented border crossing kids land in Pasco County

    Undocumented border crossing kids land in Pasco County

    Thursday, July 10 2014 9:22 PM EDT2014-07-11 01:22:53 GMT
    Eight on Your side has just learned that some of the undocumented kids who've cross the Mexican border have landed in a federally-funded shelter in Pasco County operated by Gulf Coast Jewish Community Services.
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Florida Senator Bill Nelson told Eight on Your Side Friday that immigration law gives the federal government little choice about sheltering kids who cross the Mexican border illegally to re-unite with their parents.

Some of those kids are now ending up in a federally-funded safe house in Pasco County that has been operating under the radar for about two months, until Eight On Your Side first revealed it Thursday.

Nelson blasted Florida Governor Rick Scott for blaming the immigration problem on President Barack Obama's failed immigration policy after the Governor learned about the shelter form Eight On Your Side Thursday. 

"I read that quote in your station's story and I think that's pitiful," Nelson said."He's always blaming somebody else."

Nelson faults Congress for underfunding the drug war south of the border and creating the exodus of kids fleeing violence and drug gangs to re-unite with their families who are already living legally in the U.S.

"The drug lords have basically taken over Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador," Nelson said.

Thursday, Eight On Your Side revealed that a 16 bed "pass-through" shelter for undocumented boys ages 8-17 has been quietly operating in Holiday for a about two months and there are plans to double the bed capacity of that shelter to 32 beds.

Related Story: Undocumented border crossing kids land in Pasco County

Some residents of the neighboring Aloha Gardens subdivision fear a drop in property values and danger from kids walking away the shelter. Others welcome the border crossing boys as child victims who are desperately trying to reunite with parents who are living in the U.S. legally.

Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services, which operates the shelter under a federal contract, insists that none of the kids have criminal backgrounds or any contagious diseases. The agency tells Eight On Your Side that many of the boys are victims of sex and drug trafficking and need protection.

Friday, Rochelle Tatrai-Ray, CEO of Gulf Coast told Eight On Your Side that every child processed through the shelter has ended up in states outside of Florida and in 90% or more of the cases their parents are here legally.

The private social service agency has hearings set for July 22 and August 6 in front of the Pasco Planning Commission on its request to double the number of shelter beds.

Some neighbors in the Aloha Gardens subdivision tell Eight On Your Side they fear a drop in property values or possible danger from kids walking away from the shelter. "I'm not very happy about it," said resident Marie O'Connell.

Senator Nelson refused to weigh in on O'Connell's concerns. "You're asking me a question about the neighborhood," Nelson said."And I don't know what neighborhood you're talking about."

Related Content:
Florida lawmakers discuss in state tuition for undocumented students

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