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Delco Councilor Decries ‘Angry Mob’ at Council Meeting Opposed to Housing for Illegal Immigrants

Delaware County officials told an overflow crowd of concerned citizens at a recent council meeting that, despite the rumors, they have no plans to turn the Don Guanella property in Marple Township into migrant housing.

Regardless, one Delaware County Democrat condemned their concerns as “hate speech” and dismissed the county residents who showed up as an “angry mob.”

The property, renamed Delco Woods, was acquired by the county from the Catholic Church with the understanding that it would be used for open space. However, the county has at least considered using a part of the property for a mental health facility.

And there has been widespread speculation that the nation’s open border crisis could result in local housing for some of the estimated 10 million migrants — illegal, paroled, or seeking asylum — who’ve crossed the southern border since President Joe Biden took office.

“This rumor, as well as the one about the future of Delaware County Memorial Hospital and Springfield Hospital, has absolutely no truth to it. The County is not planning to convert the Don Guanella property into a facility to house immigrants,” said county spokeswoman Adrienne Marofsky.

After the possible mental health facility proposal went public, Marple Township promptly voted to zone the entire 213 acres for open space.

Council Chair Monica Taylor, Ph.D. acknowledged Wednesday the site had been “an option” for a mental health center, but other options are also under consideration. But most of the local residents at the council meeting were worried about the possibility of housing for illegal immigrants.

Drexel Hill resident Joy Schwartz, a Republican who ran for county council last year, said, “This county has to take a different course and say this is enough. We need to stop the flow of so many people into our county. It’s destroying our schools. It’s costing us a fortune in healthcare. And it has to stop.”

Kathy, who did not disclose her last name, said she is concerned that the city, county and state are sanctuaries for illegal immigrants and that Delaware County has not complied with U.S. Customs Enforcement detainers in the past.

“We have illegals rob Walmart, and it’s not prosecuted, and let go. Delco citizens rob Walmart. They’re prosecuted and sent to a crappy, poorly-run prison that the county runs. That really makes sense, doesn’t it? And who is going to pay to have law enforcement in these townships with the illegals? Oh. We’ll just have to raise everybody’s taxes in Delco to cover it. We, the residents in Delaware County, have to pay for the poor decisions of our county council. I guess you all forgot. You work for us.”

Nick D’Ambrosio, 16, a sophomore at Marple Newtown High School and president of Marple Civic Youth, said he took part in the planning for Don Guanella and asked the council to keep plans for a section for teens with a pavilion and study area.

Media Republican Party Chair Michael Straw worries about the council’s spending.

“I am deeply concerned with the direction Delco Council is taking with Don Guanella. Previously, they told us this land would be preserved as open space. Now we are seeing county council change course and try to put a mental health facility on this property, which will undoubtedly have a larger operating budget compared to leaving the property as open space, making it a park.”

“As taxpayers, we want our funds to be spent wisely and efficiently,” Straw added. “Creating new facilities, departments and programs with short-term funding mechanisms seems irresponsible and troubles me deeply,” noting that the council raised taxes by five percent last year.

Charles Alexander, also from Marple Township asked the council to declare that Delaware County is not a sanctuary county, that it can no longer be a staging point for non-governmental organizations that settle immigrants, and that they won’t open housing for illegal immigrants in the county.

“I’ll leave you with a quote from the greatest police chief in Delco history [Mike Chitwood]: ‘Not in my town, scumbags.’  Enough is enough. Leave Don Guanella alone.”

Later that evening, when Delaware County Councilwoman Elaine Paul Schaefer arrived at a hearing on antisemitism, she blamed her tardiness on crowd at the  council meeting, referring to them as “an angry mob.”

“I’m very sad to say I’m late tonight because I was at a council meeting at which there was an angry mob of 150 people,” the Radnor resident said. “And the hate speech we’re hearing now, which is probably the reason, which is directed at immigrants. It is really just characterizing our incredibly vibrant, wonderful immigrant community as just not human. It’s really hard to hear.”


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