Ever since the federal government decided to lease the former American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro to house unaccompanied immigrant children coming over the border, the place has become something of Greensboro’s “Area 51.”

That is, it has been a dark site with little information provided as to what was going on at the former academy campus at 4334 Hobbs Road in Greensboro – other than the fact that the former Hebrew Academy was being prepared to house unaccompanied alien children, largely those coming over the US border with Mexico.

Since mid-March of this year, the campus has become a beehive of activity as federal workers prepared for the site to take in children and those workers have conducted training exercises in preparation.

However, a note in a just-released federal government document indicates that, even though workers have been on site since mid-March and there has been a lot of training activity, maintenance and prep work – and millions of dollars spent – for the school meant to house up to 800 unaccompanied immigrant children, now the site is “ramping down” and it seems questionable whether even one child will ever be held there. That’s because other sites in line ahead of the Greensboro facility to take in children remain empty as well.

A reference in a new update by the US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement states that the only work that will be done for the time being at the facility is “upkeep,” while other activity will be halted indefinitely.

The statement reads, “On March 15, 2024, US Health and Human Services operationalized the Influx Care Facility Greensboro Children’s Center, in Greensboro, North Carolina, which will provide shelter for boys and girls, 13 to 17 years old. As of June 23, 2024, the Center ramped down its operations to facility upkeep. No children have been in care at the Center since it became operational in March. It will continue to have no children in care but must be ready to resume operations and accept children eight weeks after being notified by Office of Refugee Resettlement.”

The US Department of Health and Human Services has been working in recent years to make sure that unaccompanied immigrant children get placed with family members – or with other trusted sponsors  in the US – “as quickly and safely as possible.”

To see that happen, the department has opened a number of facilities meant to house children – ideally, only up to a few weeks – before they can be placed with a family member.

The former Hebrew Academy in Greensboro was to be one of those temporary holding facilities; however, since it’s now being ramped down, it’s not clear if it will ever be used for that purpose.

The US Office of Refugee Resettlement runs 289 facilities and programs across 29 states and the representatives of the operation state that the office always attempts to be “a good neighbor in the communities where facilities are located.”

The site in Greensboro has been one of controversy ever since it was announced – largely because it’s been very difficult to get information as to what’s been going on there and exactly what was planned for the facility.

  Since mid-March, federal employees have been running training scenarios, fixing up the facility, and learning operations while employees such as kitchen staff, originally intended to feed the immigrant children, have been feeding the federal workers training at the site.

Now it looks like all of that may have been for naught:  The former Hebrew Academy place will only undergo upkeep, at least for the time being.  And it will be kept on a two-month alert that unaccompanied immigrant children may be held there,

According to a statement from the Office of Refugee Resettlement,
“Children age 17 and under who are unaccompanied by parents or other legal guardians and who have no lawful immigration status in the United States (unaccompanied children) and who are apprehended by the US Department of Homeland Security (HHS) are transferred to the care and custody of the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR). HHS plays no role in the apprehension or detention of unaccompanied children prior to their referral to HHS custody. HHS does not provide care or custody for adult non-citizens or family units that include adults.”

By US Law, the office is required to provide for the care and custody of all unaccompanied children referred to the office until they’re placed with a “vetted sponsor – usually a parent or relative, while their immigration cases proceed.”

In a very real sense, these facilities are juvenile detention centers: Unaccompanied children remain under staff supervision at all times and the children in Office of Refugee Resettlement custody don’t attend local public schools. The federal government arranges for the security of the unaccompanied children 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As of the end of June, there were just under 7,250 children in the care of the Office of Refugee Resettlement.