Mississippi’s closed casino hotels may be used as temporary shelters for unaccompanied migrant children.

Officials are currently mulling over a proposal to utilize two former casino hotels in northwest Mississippi as temporary shelters for unaccompanied migrant children. However, this idea has faced opposition, including from the local sheriff who believes that the county does not have the resources to accommodate such a plan.

According to local news reports, the hotels within the former Harrah’s casino complex, which shut down in 2014, will be transformed to accommodate up to 2,000 children and teenagers. Despite previous failed attempts to repurpose the hotels, this new initiative aims to provide housing for the youth.

County supervisors convened for an executive session on Monday to deliberate on the project. However, Tunica County Attorney John Keith Perry clarified that the supervisors have not formally endorsed the plan, as reported by WREG-TV.

According to Perry, immigration is undeniably a highly controversial topic.

According to Perry, the property’s current owners are currently in discussions with a private entity that has expressed interest in purchasing it. Despite being closed for a decade, Perry states that the property is in excellent condition.

According to Perry, any facility that houses immigrants aged 17 and younger must comply with federal regulations. He explains that his understanding is that the facility would be “self-contained.”

He mentioned that if you don’t have children, they wouldn’t be out and about due to safety concerns.

The facility must also adhere to a court settlement that dictates how the federal government must treat migrant children, including placing limitations on the duration of their confinement.

According to Tunica County Sheriff K.C. Hamp, the county lacks the necessary resources, including a hospital, to provide care for immigrants. As a result, they would need to be transported to neighboring communities for medical attention.

Hamp stated that Tunica County lacks a local hospital in case of emergencies, particularly when it comes to public safety, public healthcare, and child protective services.

State Representative Cedric Burnett, a Democrat from Sardis who represents the area, is also against the plan. He believes in supporting initiatives aimed at revitalizing the complex to boost tourism and gambling in Tunica County.

Burnett expressed his belief that utilizing the location to enhance the gaming industry would be beneficial. In an interview with WREG-TV, he mentioned that Tunica, being a tourism town, heavily relies on gaming.

According to Burnett, using hotels to accommodate migrants would only benefit the current owners and the individuals running the facility.

Harrah’s, which originally debuted in 1996 under the name Grand Casino, was designed with grandeur in mind. It boasted an impressive total of 1,356 hotel rooms spread across three buildings. Notably, its expansive casino floor, which has since been demolished, held the distinction of being the largest between New Jersey and Las Vegas.

Tunica’s casino market has experienced a decline for over a decade. In the past, it served as the closest gambling destination for parts of the South and Midwest. However, many of these states have established their own casinos, drawing away potential customers. Additionally, a casino in West Memphis, Arkansas, has also attracted patrons away from Tunica.

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