City leaders approve Long Beach Convention Center as shelter for migrant children

Long Beach city leaders have voted to approve plans to provide migrant children with a temporary emergency shelter.

On Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council passed a motion to provide temporary shelter at the Long Beach Convention Center for unaccompanied migrant children.

According to city leaders, the Long Beach Convention Center will be run and secured by the Department of Health and Human Services. Federal law enforcement officials will guard the facility for security.

ICE will not be involved in the process.

"The federal agency, ICE, will not be involved in any of this we've been told. The police department will only have responsibility if we're called there for emergencies or we deal with anything on the exterior that involves the convention center," said Robert Luna, the Chief of Police for the Long Beach Police Department.

The convention center will provide food, and physical, behavioral, recreational and educational services to the children at no cost to the city of Long Beach. City council members are saying the site will be a family reunification site.  

"The purpose of this facility to be clear, it is not child prison, it is family reunification," said Rex Richardson, the Vice Mayor in District 9.

The announcement is receiving both praise and pushback from community members who have questions about the shelter and if it will impact events from returning to the center. City Council members said they are still working on finalizing details with the federal government and plan to answer community questions once they have all of the necessary information.

City officials said the shelter will not impact vaccination efforts at the convention center, and the shelter is temporary and is planned to only be in operation for 120 days, up until August 2.

"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 in a press release Monday. "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."

Long Beach city leaders have previously said the convention center could temporarily accommodate up to 1,000 kids.

The federal government is responsible for funding and giving the major services, city officials said in a press release. The city of Long Beach is in charge of playing "a supporting role, providing the facility, and making connections to other appropriate nonprofit and government services," the press release read.

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