Shrevport, LA (KMSS) — In 2008, then president George W. Bush signed H.R 7311, also known as the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008. This law mandates that all unaccompanied minors from countries other than Mexico and Canada get full court proceedings before being returned to their host country.
Because of this 2008 law, the Central American unaccompanied minors cannot be sent back to their countries of origin immediately, meaning that housing arrangements must be made.
A few months ago, management at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds were contacted by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions to see if housing some of these children would be a possibility at Hirsch Coliseum. General Manager Chris Giordano didn't say yes or no, but said that the federal government could call him to talk further. That was the last Giordano heard of the possibility. He was never contacted by the Department of Homeland Security to learn if they would even need a place to house children.
However, even if they had, it would likely be a moot point. Giordano explains, "at this point in time, we are getting close to the state fair and we have some other events contracted out here, coming up soon, so I don't think we would be able to serve if we were called on at this point in time.
If the possibility presents itself at a later date, Giordano will first discuss the possibility with city and parish officials before giving an answer. This wouldn't be the first time Hirsch Coliseum has housed refugees; it was a safe haven during Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav.