A new non-profit group in Iowa is leading a campaign to bring Central American children who’ve entered the U.S. illegally to live in Iowa. Jessica Brackett is one of the organizers of the group “1,000 Kids for Iowa,” which she says is dedicated to finding 1,000 safe temporary or long-term homes in Iowa for these undocumented, unaccompanied children.

“In addition to finding homes, we’re also building a support network to help support these children when they get here,” Brackett says. “Basically, we are getting in touch with those support networks, we’re finding translators, things along those lines.”

Nearly 60,000 children from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala have come into the U.S. illegally since October. About 140 of the children have already reached Iowa, but Brackett says there’s room for hundreds more. She says they’re getting overwhelming support. “We have been called from folks across the state,” she says. “We’ve been contacted by people from six other states asking how they can replicate our efforts. Right now, we are organizing meetings in numerous cities across the state.”

Thousands of children are being held by U.S. immigration officials in four states that border Mexico. Brackett says Iowans are responding to the call. “We have over 450 people who have signed up with us to offer support in one way or another,” she says. “We have over 250 people who have offered to house these children in their homes.”

Brackett says her group’s campaign is similar to what former Governor Robert Ray did in the mid-1970s to welcome families who escaped from war-torn Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

(Reporting by Pat Powers, KQWC, Webster City)