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People gathered Tuesday afternoon at Long Beach City Hall to protest city officials’ decision to provide migrant children with temporary emergency shelter at the Long Beach Convention Center.
The Long Beach City Council and Mayor Garcia are considering an item to authorize City staff to establish an emergency intake site for unaccompanied migrant children at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Members of the Long Beach community rallied after the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition called for a protest via Instagram that was sparked by the recent call for Long Beach Convention Center to house immigrant children.
“Let’s not make this as a model,” said Gaby Hernandez, Executive Director at Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition. “We want to make sure that this is not a new version or rebranding of detention centers. We’re asking that they [city officials] look for alternatives and that this does not go beyond the 90 days.”
Long Beach specifically has been requested by the federal government to assist unaccompanied minors currently housed in overcrowded Border Patrol facilities. The Convention Center would temporarily accommodate up to 1,000 children for a period of 90 to 120 days.
Federal officials chose the Long Beach Convention Center to be the optimal site to provide housing, food, recreational and other services to these children in need.
The federal government would be responsible for both funding and providing the major services needed to care for the children, with Long Beach playing a supporting role, providing the facility, and making connections to other appropriate non-profit and government services.
“I hope that people are watching,” said Hernandez. “The decisions that are being made are not being fully transparent, it was a closed session.”
According to an official statement by the City of Long Beach, The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Refugee Resettlement tapped Long Beach officials “to assist with this humanitarian mission to safely house children who are unattended by their parents”.
“Long Beach has a proud and long history of welcoming and helping immigrants and refugees. From our Cambodian community to the work done by our churches and faith organizations, we have led with compassion and kindness,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “As an immigrant, I know how important it is to support all people, especially children — and I am proud to support our country in this important work.”
However, community organizers and citizens expressed their concerns at Long Beach City Hall regarding the temporary shelter being provided for migrant children at the Long Beach Convention Center.
“We don’t want this to be a long term solution,” said Hernandez. “We know that kids should not be caged. We want to make sure that families and kids don’t go long periods of time without their loved ones. The federal government needs to be analyzing the policies that are in place right now to ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
The decision is still yet to be revealed to the public by city officials.
This story is still developing.
For more information on resources and petitions from the Long Beach Immigration Rights Coalition please visit https://linktr.ee/lbirc562