The first city official in Iowa to openly declare he wanted his community to serve as a haven for Central American children who entered the U.S. illegally is now changing his strategy. Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba is putting a temporary hold on plans to resettle refugees in his city as he says finding homes is no longer the immediate concern.
Mayor Gluba says, “What their need is now is for attorneys, both corporate or otherwise, who can be trained quickly in how to work with children.” As many as 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, so Gluba is trying to anticipate their needs as more arrive. “Any of the children that may be in Iowa or in the Quad Cities will eventually have to appear before a judge to determine what their future’s going to be,” Gluba says. “If they’re four-, five- or six-year-old children or even young adults, everyone technically needs legal representation to work through the process appropriately.”
Gluba is working to set up training for Davenport-area attorneys, some of whom he says are on loan from various corporations. “There are two University of Iowa lawyers who are professors in immigration law, a husband and wife team, and they are available to provide a minimum amount of training to other lawyers who might be able to help,” Gluba says. He expects some refugee children may eventually be resettled in the Quad Cities.