Neither the City of Paso Robles or the Mayor were formally informed of the decision
PASO ROBLES — The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will not be sending the predicted 5,000 migrant children to Camp Roberts as the plan has been put on hold “indefinitely.”
According to the press release from the City of Paso Robles, Mannal Haddad, Carbajal’s communications director, emailed the SLO Tribune saying, “HHS has informed us that they do not plan to move forward with utilizing Camp Roberts to house unaccompanied minors at this time.”
Paso Robles City Mayor Steve Martin said, “My understanding is that plan is not going to be activated as of now. Doesn’t reclude is being done in the future, but as of now, it’s not going to be initiated.”
In early May, Paso Robles City was notified of possible plans for the HHS to house as many as 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children at Camp Roberts, just outside of Paso Robles.
In a press release sent by Paso Robles City, Mayor Martin said, “In a teleconference meeting with federal officials recently, we were told as many as 5,000 unaccompanied migrant children could be processed at Camp Roberts,” said Martin. “I expressed concerns about the impacts on local traffic, medical services, educational services, and housing. I was told that if children were transported to Camp Roberts, they would not arrive all at one time but in groups of a few hundred. I was also assured medical and educational services would be handled on-base and would not impact local agencies.”
Martin continued, “I explained the housing situation clearly,” said Martin. “I insisted that, unlike similar operations in urban areas, this could have significant impacts on our community. I was assured I would be informed on plans as they develop.”
However, Mayor Martin was not notified of any recent developments in the plan to house migrant children here.
“The way I learned about it was through the media. Nobody contacted me directly–I requested to be notified of any developments, and as I say, the first time I heard about it was when I read about it in the media,” said Martin.
Housing the migrant children at Camp Roberts initiated many concerns within the community.
Aaron Bergh, a local business owner, wrote an opinion piece, “How the Immigration Crisis Will Burden Central Coast Businesses,” which printed in Paso Robles Press on May 11.
The article said, “Beyond hotel overcrowding, the convergence of migrants and support staff in Paso Robles could lead to other adverse effects. There will be increased traffic on roads and demand for emergency services that locals rely on. In the face of an impending drought, higher water consumption by Camp Roberts will further strain our water supply and result in increased withdrawals from the severely overdrawn Lake Nacimiento.”
Now that the plan to house children at Camp Roberts has been put on hold, Bergh said, “While I hope for a solution that truly helps the unaccompanied migrant children crisis, I am relieved to hear that our local infrastructure and housing will not be impacted.”
According to Rep. Carbajal’s spokesperson, HHS officials said they’ve chosen not to move forward with Camp Roberts at the moment due to the decreased numbers of unaccompanied minors entering into the HHS custody and that there is less need for any more additional sites.
Mayor Martin said, “I think it’s going to put some people in the community at ease that thought there were going to be complications involved with an operation so close to us like that. It’s something that caused a lot of conversation, and I’ve done my best to make sure that everybody had the most complete information about what might or might not happen and continue to urge our state and federal officials to keep me and our community informed should this plan be reactivated in the future.”