City Leaders: No plans to bring unaccompanied minors to Amarillo

Amarillo can expect nearly 500 refugees in 2014, but Mayor Paul Hapole will meet with Kel Seliger Wednesday to discuss that number.

The City of Amarillo can expect nearly 500 more refugees in 2014, and as of right now that number doesn't include any unaccompanied minors from the border.

"They are not coming here," Mayor Paul Harpole said. "We know of no one trying to move them here, so that's not becoming an issue."

Harpole said the refugees expected to move to Amarillo are "traditional refugees," who have to go through a legal process to get here.

"These are refugees that are going through the United Nations, then the Department of State, refugees who have been coming here since the '70s," Harpole said.

Executive Director Nancy Koons of Catholic Charities of the Texas Panhandle said her agency has been contacted about the potential of helping the unaccompanied minors at the border, but that she has made it clear there is nothing her agency can do.

"Our position is that we cannot, our community cannot handle the influx of unaccompanied minors," Koons said. "There are concerned people in the community that are fearful that we'll get hundreds or thousands of children coming to Amarillo, but I can tell you we have not heard of anything."

According to Koons Amarillo already struggles with the number of refugees who come through the two resettlement agencies in the city. She said the city also doesn't have the resources to house those coming into the U.S. illegally from the border.

Harpole, City Council Member, Lilia Escajeda and City Manager, Jarrett Atkinson plan to meet with Senator Kel Seligar about the refugee issue in Amarillo.