Private school in Orange County chosen to become federal migrant camp

A school representative tells News 12 that they expect to house 36 unaccompanied children, ages 13 to 17, within the next few weeks or months. 

Blaise Gomez

Jan 4, 2023, 10:19 PM

Updated 511 days ago

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A private school in Orange County is now slated to become a federal migrant camp for children separated from their parents while illegally crossing the border.  
St. Christopher’s School in New Windsor currently houses teens and youth with special needs, but now it’s shifting gears to also become a federal migrant camp for kids.  
A school representative tells News 12 that they expect to house 36 unaccompanied children, ages 13 to 17, within the next few weeks or months. 
New Windsor Supervisor George Meyers says the town has known about the plans since October and has concerns. 
“Now you have the federal government, you are stuck with all these children,” said Meyers. "You wonder where the parents are. That’s an issue.” 
Meyers says school administration asked for a letter of support that the town refused to provide. 
He says the town does not have jurisdiction to approve or deny the plans since the school is already zoned as a residential facility. 
“We have had trouble there before. So, I suspect we’ll have trouble with this group,” said Meyers. 
The Westchester-based residential school for children and youth with special needs is now designated by the U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement to provide shelter and education services to incoming migrant teens and will help place them with vetted sponsors. 
Nighttime migrant flights have been reported at three different airports in Westchester and Orange counties since 2021, but this is the first migrant camp News 12 is learning of in the Hudson Valley. 
Officials say the unaccompanied children could arrive as early as February. 
Orange County Human Rights Commissioner Inaudy Gil says the migrant camp is an answer to an increasing need seen nationwide.
"When unaccompanied migrant children have no options of where to go, they lack access to basic resources and can often experience higher rates of abuse, neglect and vulnerability to trafficking, even within our own communities," said Gil. "Having a shelter that follows federal mandates, ensuring safety, access to basic resources, and helps ensure a safer community for everyone."
The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement tells News 12 that children will not begin to arrive at the facility until school administration demonstrate they are ready to safely provide care.


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