A Pennsylvania court has blocked the Arizona-based youth agency VisionQuest from moving 60 undocumented migrant children into its North Philadelphia center.
That stay will remain in place until the case is decided, lawyers said, ending a back-and-forth of appeals and injunctions.
Commonwealth Court Judge Anne Covey ruled on Wednesday after a telephone hearing with representatives of the Kenney administration and VisionQuest. The for-profit company wants to house a rotating population of Spanish-speaking boys, ages 12 to 17, at a property on Old York Road just south of Einstein Medical Center.
VisionQuest says it’s seeking to provide clean, safe housing and services to migrant children in desperate need of care. The center has been opposed by local immigrant advocates, teachers’ representatives, and City Council members, who say a “sanctuary city” must not hold migrant children within its borders.
In her decision, Covey wrote that the administration proved that VisionQuest had failed to establish that it would suffer irreparable injury if it could not open the center soon. The alleged harm was speculative, the judge wrote.
“It’s a disappointment, but we still feel good about our case,” VisionQuest attorney Carl Primavera said on Wednesday.
There was no indication when the full case might be decided in Common Pleas Court.
City officials declined to comment on the Commonwealth Court ruling.
The legal fight grew out of a zoning decision that blocked the center from opening, leading VisionQuest to sue for the right to quickly accept children.
The children have been designated by the federal government as “unaccompanied minors,” arriving alone at the southern border after fleeing gang violence and poverty in Central America. They have no parent or guardian in this country, and are held by the government as it seeks to place them with relatives or sponsor families.