The White House is calling it a humanitarian crisis. Fifty-two thousand immigrant children have illegally crossed the U.S. border this year. Legally, most can't be deported because they came without an adult and because of the deportation rule for the countries they came from.
Now charities across the nation are taking a look at how they can help, including right here in Wichita. While nothing is happening right now, Eyewitness News has confirmed Catholic Charities in the Wichita Diocese is planning a meeting later this month to discuss what resources it has to help, if asked.
"Somebody needs to help them," said Shawn Lamberson. "Definitely."
With thousands of undocumented Central American children pouring over the border all by themselves the U.S. government is running out of space at detention centers in Texas and Arizona.
Attempts to move some of the children to California have already met with protests. But groups like Catholic Charities in Austin, Texas, say others will have to step in and help.
"Catholic Charities USA does a lot of direct work with the federal government," said a spokesperson in Texas. "They're looking networkwide to see what resources are available to help with the solution at border. Each individual Catholic Charities is probably going through the same process"
In Austin they figure they'll start dealing with an influx of these unaccompanied minors in a couple weeks and it will spread from there.
In Wichita an organizational meeting is planned for later this month. No request for aid has been made at this time but the diocese wants to be ready if it is.
"Any help for the safety of the children, is number one," said Gayla Mead. "The safety of the children."
"There'd be a host of issues, like healthcare for the children, safety issues," said Lamberson. "So it's a problem that does need to be dealt with."
"But then I do feel that we need to make sure that they are returned," said Mead.
"I agree. They need to be safe and be helped. But they should be returned home to their families," said Kristi Bakhtiar.
Again, no request has been made for help from Wichita at this time. Local groups just want to be ready if they are asked. No one Eyewitness News spoke with Wednesday was sure just who would make such a request.
This isn't the first time Wichitans have prepared themselves to help children from other countries. In the 1960's a Catholic orphanage housed more than 80 Cuban boys fleeing from Fidel Castro as part of Operation Peter Pan.