In the heat of controversy, Mayor Robert Garcia and City Council members held a special meeting in the evening of Tuesday, April 6, regarding a measure which would allocate the facilities at the Long Beach Convention Center to the use of the federal Human Health Services as an emergency shelter for over 1,000 children currently being held at the border.
The measure was passed unanimously with all 9 district representatives vocally supporting the cause while simultaneously addressing several community concerns.
Outside of the City Hall entrance, a demonstration organized by the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition and several other community organizations was held. Participants peacefully listened to speakers vocalizing their own apprehensions and those of their constituents. One of the many issues brought up was that of temporality. Those challenging the measure stated that a strict end date, to what some describe as, the detention of the affected children is a priority. In addition, many groups and outspoken individuals in the community feel that Long Beach’s involvement with what is argued to be a system of policies and practices constituting a human rights crisis at the border is an unwelcome entity here in Long Beach. Furthermore, anxieties surrounding the possible influx of I.C.E agents in the city due to their occupancy at the San Diego facility are a prominent issue within this debate. City officials addressed the unease in the special meeting and affirmed such a presence is unlikely and not the intention of this administration.
Now that the measure has passed and the city of Long Beach will officially be providing what they describe as emergency shelter, up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors seeking asylum will be transported from facilities across the southern border throughout the coming weeks. Though the HHS will be responsible for managing the site, Mayor Garcia assures the public of thorough transparency and the opportunity for community involvement over the course of the children’s stay here in Long Beach. In the special meeting held prior to the vote solidifying the city’s decision, Mayor Garcia stated that those who would like to volunteer or get involved in an array of capacities are able to do so by accessing a portal which is soon to be published in conjunction with the city’s website at some point in the approaching days.
By Danny Drake