Migrant Children to Arrive at Convention Center

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By Jeannette Montoya

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia didn’t hesitate when he got a phone call if could help house migrant children who recently arrived at the U.S. Mexico border.

“Absolutely,” replied the mayor. Mayor Garcia who migrated with his family from Peru to the U.S. at the age of five years old.

When the word got out, Long Beach residents where so overwhelmed by the city leaders’ decision they offered to help with the children. “Everyone is reaching out, churches, schools, universities you name it,” Garcia said. “It’s been great to see.”

Sometime later this week migrant children are expected to arrive in Long Beach. In order to prepare themselves for this arrival, the city has launched an online portal with details on how the community, businesses and any type of organization can help and support the migrant children who will be housing at the Long Beach Convention Center.

Donations to the Long Beach Community Foundation  (LBCF) will be given to other charities and educational government institutions according to LBCF President and CEO Marcelle Epley.

“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 foundation’s with input from the city manager’s office and organizers related to the support effort.”

Long Beach will temporarily be housing up to 1,000 unaccompanied minors at the convention center.

“There’s been overwhelming interest from our community to welcome and support the migrant children who will be coming to our city,” Garcia stated. “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.”

Long Beach isn’t the only city to help shelter the children. Many of the children will be given temporary housing at the Pomona Fairplex in Los Angeles. The San Diego Convention Center will be used as a temporary facility for teenage girls through mid-July.

The decision to use the Convention Center came from the place being vacant for months due to COVID-19 pandemic, and a surge of unaccompanied minors fleeing violence and poverty in Central America. 19,000 children came without a parent last month.

On April 12, the Convention Center was found vandalized after a weekend of anti-ICE protests.

The Long Beach Police Department responded to a call where they found the Convention Center steps, walls and walkway covered in graffiti with phrases like: “There’s blood on our hands,” “This is for our children.”

The walls were also covered in fake blood.

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