Migrant children to arrive at Convention Center this week, officials say

Migrant children are expected to arrive in Long Beach some time this week, the city announced today. In preparation of their arrival, the city launched an online portal detailing how community members, businesses and organizations can support migrant children who are to be temporarily housed at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Since the first mention that the city could potentially be the site of a holding facility for up to 1,000 migrant children, community members have inquired about how they can support the unaccompanied minors detained by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“There’s been overwhelming interest from our community to welcome and support the migrant children who will be coming to our city,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Long Beach will continue to demonstrate compassion to those in need, and our online portal will provide up-to-date information on ways community members can support these efforts.”

The city’s announcement states the “easiest and quickest” way to support the children is monetary donations to the Long Beach Community Foundation’s new Migrant Children Support Fund. The tax-deductible donations would provide assistance and supportive resources “to make the children more comfortable” while in Long Beach, but no specifics are noted by the city.

Donations to the foundation’s fund will in turn be given to other charities and educational and government institutions, according to foundation President and CEO Marcelle Epley. In the coming days and weeks, Epley said the needs of the children will be evaluated, which will inform exactly how the donations are spent.

“Some of the ideas that have been tossed around are things like blankets and toys but the exact purchases and services will be determined based on what the need will be,” Epley said. “And the decision will be the Community Foundation’s with input from the city manager’s office and organizers related to the support effort.”

The foundation also will ensure the funds are spent according to donors’ intent, Epley said.

The city approached the foundation to establish the fund, Epley said, noting the organization’s recent Coronavirus Relief Fund effort on behalf of the city.

Donations can be made online or by check mailed to the foundation at 400 Oceangate, Suite 800 with the designation “migrant children support fund.”

Businesses, vendors and organizations interested in providing services must complete a form for HHS review and consideration. Services include:

  • Food/meal services
  • Education
  • Recreation
  • Mental health
  • Entertainment
  • Family reunification
  • Child supervision
  • Legal services
  • Religious services
  • Language translation
  • Case management
  • Facility set-up assistance
  • Health care

The city is working with HHS to identify additional ways for the community to support the children, including volunteer opportunities and physical donations. While volunteer opportunities are not guaranteed, people who are interested may fill out a form for HHS consideration.

The use of the convention center has also drawn criticism from the onset. Demonstrators gathered outside the facility to demand transparency and humane treatment of the children, who are not to be held in Long Beach later than Aug. 2.

Days later, the convention center was vandalized with anti-ICE slogans and phrases such as, “There’s blood on your hands,” “concentration camp,” and “No kids in cages.” What appeared to be red paint was also dumped on the stairs leading to the Convention Center’s main entrance.

The city does not play a role in the reunification and shelter operation, which is fully under the purview of HHS. Details about the department’s unaccompanied children program are available on its website.

The city has reiterated that the migrant operation would not impact the convention center’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information from Marcelle Epley.

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Brandon Richardson is a business reporter, covering everything from real estate and healthcare to the airport and port to city hall and the economy. He is a Long Beach native who has been with the Business Journal since graduating from Long Beach City College in spring 2016 with an associate’s degree in journalism. He is an avid record collector and concert goer.
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