KidsPeace immigrant youths protest peaceful
The busload of illegal immigrant children never showed up, but the protesters and counter-protesters did.
On a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon, an estimated 85, some said to represent the Lehigh Valley Tea Party, protested the housing of illegal immigrant youths at the KidsPeace Broadway Campus, Salisbury Township.
On a sidewalk on the south side of Broadway, protestors stood and sat, holding and waving signs, chanting "U.S.A." and cheering when passing vehicles sounded their horns in support.
Across the street, a counter-protest of approximately 25, some of whom identified themselves as members of the International Workers of the World, waved red flags and also brandished signs, some stating, "No child is illegal."
Salisbury Township police reported no incidents during the protest, which began at 11 a.m. July 20. The number of protesters dwindled by 1:30 p.m. under a hot mid-afternoon sun.
"Salisbury Township police dispatched three officers and patrol cars to ensure the safety of protestors and passing motorists at the KidsPeace Broadway campus, 1650 Broadway, in the vicinity of Gauff Hill in Lehigh County, near the Borough of Fountain Hill and west of Bethlehem.
St. Luke's University Hospital Health Network Emergency Medical Services Outreach had two personnel and two vehicles on the scene, including one ambulance.
"There's no bus and none scheduled," said Bevin Theodore, Director of Public Relations & Communications for KidsPeace, Sunday at the Broadway campus. "I don't know where they got that."
The Times News of Lehighton received an email July 18 from the Lehighton 9/12 Project stating, "We have learned that the Kids Peace facility at Fountain Hill may be receiving a bus or van full of 'illegal Immigrant children' this weekend from the South West border area in cooperation with the federal government's plan to ship them all over the country."
The email urged, "We need to stand with our sister Lehigh Valley 9/12 Tea Party."
The email was forwarded to the Salisbury Press and Bethlehem Press.
The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement began housing what are officially termed "refugee children" in May 2013 at the KidsPeace Broadway campus.
The program is funded by a $3.5-million ORR grant to house children allegedly caught at the Mexican border attempting to cross into the United States.
Up to 72 unaccompanied children for up to 45 days were to be housed at five dorm-style residences at the KidsPeace Broadway campus. Up to 109 youths can be housed at KidsPeace Broadway.
KidsPeace was said to have hired and trained an additional 60 bilingual employees to accommodate the children.
Salisbury police have reported no incidents involving the immigrant youths at or near the Broadway Campus since they began being housed there.
The KidPeace housing of the immigrant children met requirements of the township zoning ordinance, Salisbury officials said.
KidsPeace Broadway campus children residences were unoccupied as of 2008.
The KidsPeace Orchard Hills Campus in Orefield houses as many as 200 youths who are not in the federally-funded immigrant youth program.