The original proposal from HHS's Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) sought to lease a 74,000-square-foot facility for 17 years. The proposed shelter was intended to house up to 430 children and 143 staff, with a projected opening date of December 2020.
Officials with HHS would not provide more details on why the project was canceled. But U.S. Rep. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat who represents parts of the Inland Empire and sits on the House subcommittee that oversees HHS, said he thinks the disintegration of the plan is a direct result of the pressure that he and other California lawmakers and activists put on the government.
"I think the administration was reluctant to pursue a warehouse-type facility for young children because we would demand transparency," Ruiz said.
Ruiz and several Congressional colleagues from the area sent a letter to ORR in August, asking that the federal government provide more information about the proposed facility.