KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A new juvenile detention center proposed in Kansas City could also be used for immigrant children separated from their families.
One metro attorney said it’s a potential “stain on the community” and could stir up protest in the metro.
The former Kindred Hospital at 87th and Troost might become the new home to Vision Quest, a shelter for at-risk minors. The Arizona-based company is in the process of talking with city council members about moving into the former hospital, which closed in 2018.
Published reports show Vision Quest has been accused of child abuse, and the company, which runs for-profit detention centers, also uses its facilities to house children who've been separated from their parents during ongoing immigration cases.
“That's not what they're supposed to be doing,” said Genevra Alberti, an immigration attorney from Kansas City.
Alberti, who said she’s familiar with Vision Quest only via published reports, fears workers assigned to handle detained immigrant children don’t have proper training.
Thousands of children are still being held in camps while their parents, some of whom entered the United States, are on trial facing deportation.
“I and any other immigration lawyer who has discussed this, we are all very concerned this is going to be a place that's not safe or healthy for children to be in," Alberti said. "That's the last thing we want here in Kansas City."
Mark Contento, Vision Quest president, had no comment when FOX4 contacted him Tuesday.
A company spokesperson emailed, saying the company would not comment until after Feb. 25, when Kansas City council members will discuss the project. The council’s planning committee tabled Vision Quest’s proposal for one week on Tuesday morning.
“Migrant children coming across the border without their parents aren't at-risk youth. They aren't juvenile delinquents," Alberti said. "They are just people who need housing and to love them while their immigrations cases go through the process."
Vision Quest also sought to move into a building at 78th and Holmes in 2019, but people in the Waldo neighborhood rallied against it.
The company has detention centers in San Antonio, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, some of which have been unsuccessful.