Long Beach, CA – After reuniting 1,538 migrant children with family members or sponsors from the Emergency Intake Shelter at the Long Beach Convention Center, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced today that it is ceasing operations ahead of schedule at the temporary facility today, July 23, 2021.
“I’m incredibly proud of our city for stepping up and welcoming these kids. This humanitarian mission has always been about ensuring the safe reunification of families and we are so grateful for the opportunity to help,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.
The Long Beach facility, which opened on April 22, 2021, was one of several emergency shelters set up around the country when the federal government experienced an influx of children at the southern border. The Long Beach Convention Center, which was not being used for public events due to the coronavirus pandemic, was available and could accommodate up to 1,000 children at a time.
Long Beach mostly housed girls ages 5 and older. Most were housed for 19 days on average and had space for recreation and learning while they waited to be connected with family members or sponsors.
“It’s our legal and moral obligation to care for the well-being of unaccompanied children in our care as we work to safely unite them with their parents or with vetted sponsors,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Since its opening, the Long Beach Emergency Intake Shelter has been an example of the care we can provide when staff, volunteers, local leaders and neighboring communities come together to support a temporary shelter. I want to extend my gratitude to the staff, the volunteers and all the members of the community who contributed to creating a safe place for unaccompanied children.”
To make their stay in Long Beach as comfortable as possible during the reunification process, there was an overwhelmingly compassionate response from the community to provide the young women and children with welcome letters, professional services and basic necessities such as food, toiletries, clothing and baby care items. Approximately 130,000 items were donated, including 30,000 toys. Of that, 16,000 unique items were given to the migrants at the shelter; the rest of the donations were repurposed for other groups in need in the Long Beach area.
The Long Beach Community Foundation collected over $240,000 in monetary donations to provide comfort, education, and support to the children housed at the Long Beach Convention Center during the family reunification process. This was the single largest number of donations to the Long Beach Community Foundation in such a short period of time. Funds were used to provide:
- Fun and interactive learning programs provided by The Aquarium of the Pacific
- Kinder Konzert musicals in English and Spanish performed by the Long Beach Camerata Singers
- A reading lab program from the Long Beach Public Library Foundation which includes reading lessons from local Long Beach youth from Patrick Henry Elementary, Helen Keller Middle School, and other LBUSD Dual Immersion schools
- Concerts, dance classes, and performances from Musical Theatre West;
- A July 4th celebration from Centro CHA
- Gift cards to be used for necessities when the children are reunited with their families
- Legal representation services from Immigrant Defenders Law Center
“The generosity of the Long Beach community never ceases to amaze me,” said LBCF President and CEO Marcelle Epley. “This was the largest amount of money raised for a single fund in such a short period of time in our history.” All reunifications were made ahead of schedule, and operations at the shelter ceased on Friday, July 23, 2021. Long Beach’s contract with the federal government for the emergency shelter ends on August 2, 2021.